Parents of students of Pak-Turk schools and colleges blasted the Pakistan government for handing over the education system to a Turkish nonprofit organization called Maarif Foundation. They said that the schools and colleges would suffer if handed-over to the “poorly-equipped and infamous” Maarif Foundation.
As many as 108 Turkish employees of the Pak Turk Schools, along with their families, have been in the United Nations’ protection after Pakistani authorities denied them an extension in their visas to work in the country. The applicants had told UNHCR they feared arrest, coercion and torture by the Erdogan government in Turkey in case the Pakistani government forcibly deported them to Istanbul.
At the heart of the matter is the question of Maa’rif’s credentials to take over the schools instead of its Pakistani management. Turkey is least known for its standard of education. Moreover, the Erdogan-backed organisation is neither experienced in the education field nor apolitical. The organisation is already scared with allegation of child sexually abuse in Turkey.
Amnesty South Asia Director Champa Patel: “With 24 million Pakistani children out of school, Pakistan’s decision to expel teachers from the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges will only hurt Pakistan’s children. What the country needs is more classrooms and more teachers, not a politically-motivated decision to purge educators at the behest of the Turkish government.”
Mohammed Aqeel, 24, who attended the Peshawar school and now teaches there, called the visa cancellations “a shameful event” that had compromised Pakistan’s independence and damaged its educational standards. “There is no foreign ideology here,” he said. “I love this school. It grooms us to be good human beings as well as students.”
The act of sending to Turkey over 400 Turkish citizens working and studying in the Pak-Turk International School system is highly condemnable. They have been living in Pakistan since 1995 and this is their home now. Their kids were born and brought up in Pakistan. It is heart-wrenching to see that they are suddenly being treated like terrorists.
The point is that Turkish teachers have not committed any crime in Pakistan. Abrupt exodus of those teachers would destroy teaching system in Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif should have considered the interest of citizens of Pakistan before submitting to unfair requests of Turkish government.
“The government will neither close down Pak-Turk schools in the country nor will it hand them over to anyone,” announced the Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baligh Ur Rehman. According to the minister, Pak-Turk schools are registered with the relevant Pakistani authorities and therefore, they will continue to operate in the country.
A student at the Pak-Turk School in Lahore was perplexed at the abrupt deportation of all Turkish teachers at the request of the Turkish President Erdogan. “The Pak-Turk School changed my outlook in life. The teachers were more than simply teachers, they were mentors and helped students in all aspects of life,” this student exclaimed. “Why are they kicking out my teachers who have done so much for my country?” he wondered.
All the parents were depressed and disappointed at the forced exit of Turkish staff. They looked sad with tearful eyes bade farewell to the Turkish staff. Mr. Osman Arslanhan along with the other Turkish staff made a symbolic burial of a heart which was full of hearty wishes of the Turkish staff and drawings made by the Turkish children. The heart was buried with tears in the eyes by all the Turkish staff.
The students, who have been groomed and educated by the Turkish teachers at the PakTurk schools, seem down in the dumps since word about their mentors’ departure got round. The teachers are scheduled to leave Pakistan in the coming week following the government’s deadline.
The recent controversy that has emerged regarding the PakTurk school system is troubling to say the least. PakTurk schools started popping up all over Pakistan during last decade. Turkey has always carried a strong brand value in Pakistan and it is therefore not surprising that the school system ostensibly embodying the best of Pakistan and Turkey was an instantaneous hit with parents.
The petitioners submitted before the court that Pak-Turk schools had been imparting quality education to hundreds of Pakistani children. They said that the forced deportation of Turkish teachers and other staff members was illegal as they had been provided protection under the Constitution.