Probe into ‘irregularities’ at Pakistan school opens

A probe challenging the failure of the Pakistan Embassy to constitute a managing panel and to check the alleged irregularities of the Riyadh-based Pakistan International School (English Section) has been initiated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This was disclosed here Monday by a group of aggrieved Pakistani parents, who approached the apex court and sought its intervention to streamline the affairs of the school.
“The inquiry will focus on the alleged malpractices by the school officials including its acting Principal Muhammed Tanveer, and the reasons behind the non-constitution of the managing committee,” said a parent, who was shortlisted by the embassy to be a member of the PISES panel, which was never formed. An emissary of the Supreme Court visited Riyadh a few days back and spoke to about 180 parents as part of the probe into possible scandals, he added.
“Any sane dissident voice is silenced by the school officials,” said Tahir Amin, a former PISES teacher, who was detained for six days by Riyadh police following false complaints by the school officials. Amin, who holds a doctorate degree and was conferred with the best teacher award in 2009 by the same school, said that he was later “given a clean chit by the police.”
“In fact, a few e-mails sent by me irked the principal and his henchmen, who complained to the police against my conduct,” said Amin, who has since been fired from the school. Dr. Shazia Haris, a parent, said, “The PISES officials including the principal are least concerned about academic improvement. One of my children doesn’t even want to go to the PISES because of the poor academic environment,” said Haris, while accusing the officials of “gross favoritism.”
Haris, who also met the Supreme Court inquiry official Syed Ahsan Raza, criticized the principal for not convening the parents-teachers meeting periodically. Another parent, Gul Khan said that he also met Raza and briefed him about the state of affairs. A parent Muhammad Sajjad, who has been relocated to Dammam, said that the school officials are involved in “dirty politics.”
Another parent, who preferred to remain anonymous, questioned the recruitment of several teachers and the delegation of massive powers to a group of PISES teachers including a non-Pakistani lady. The matter has also been reported to the National Accountability Bureau, the apex anti-corruption agency in Pakistan, he said.
Asked about his version of the story, PISES Principal Muhammad Tanveer dismissed all charges of irregularities and mismanagement. On the question of the formation of the managing committee, Tanveer said, “I wrote a letter to the Ministry of Education in May/June 2013 regarding the managing committee telling them that the school has finished its role and any follow up should be done with the embassy because as per rules it is the authority of the ambassador to nominate the committee.”
The parents of the 3,000-strong student body also cited unnecessary “interference” in the school affairs by Pakistan Embassy officials as the main reason behind the decline in the standards of the school. In a letter written to the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan, they complained about the alleged interference of embassy officials in the matters of the school in Saudi Arabia.

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