The parents of children enrolled in PakTurk Schools took to the Lahore Press Club on Thursday to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to reconsider its decision to handover the school administration to the Ma’arif Foundation.
In a statement, PakTurk parents said that as parents “we are deeply concerned over media reports regarding decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, declaring our school as a terrorist organization”.
“We believe that this decision was sought by keeping the honourable court in dark regarding the facts and blaming that it was being run by an organization declared as terrorist organization in brotherly country Turkey. We are also concerned about the stigma of terrorism on our children who are studying in these schools which will endanger their future prospects. Declaring them terrorists, without giving them any chance of hearing and fair trial is beyond our understanding”.
The parents said PakTurk School was run and owned by a Pakistani foundation and that the PakTurk Education Foundation (PTEF) was a Pakistani company, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) under Section 42. They added that the foundation ran a number of pre-school to college institutions in 10 cities of Pakistan, educating more than 11,000 students.
Elaborating the structure of the organization the statement said, “The schools were founded by Turkish and Pakistani individuals under the concept of Muakhat e Madina and were jointly developed with major efforts by the Pakistani community. It is currently led by Pakistani members of Board of Directors (BoDs) as a result of an understanding with the Turkish citizens to transfer the ownership to Pakistani community. Pakistani directors took over the total operational responsibilities in November 2016 after the Turkish staff left. At present, the total ownership of the PTEF belongs to the Pakistani community”.
The parents also shared their concerns vis-à-vis the Ma’arif Foundation. “As we searched through international press reports regarding Ma’arif Foundation, we found that its presence, interestingly, is in third world countries only. We have been shocked to read several news reports that appeared in different countries’ media outlets about propagation of Turkish political mindset by teachers and administrators, child abuse, low attendance because of appalling low educational standards after take-over, employment of foreigners (such as Syrians) bearing Turkish passports as administrators and teachers and so on”.
“We request our government not to succumb to Turkish government pressure and usurp a local private chain of schools for the sake of political gains,” they added.
They further said, “We appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Government of Pakistan to review their decision and to keep the facilities, board, administration and the faculty of the PakTurk educational institutions intact. As parents, we have our constitutional right to choose the best institution for our children and our constitutional rights should not be trampled upon for the benefit of satisfying the political wishes of a brotherly country which exerts unwarranted pressure on our own educational system by means of their government-funded Ma’arif Foundation”.