Education & Family

Gordon Brown proposes Pakistan school security plan

school entrance Peshawar Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There have been more than a thousand school attacks in the Peshawar region, says the UN envoy

Security fences, metal detectors, armed guards and emergency communication systems are part of a package of safety measures for Pakistan's schools being proposed by UN envoy Gordon Brown.

The former UK prime minister has held talks with Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif about making schools safer after the Peshawar school massacre.

Pakistan has suffered more attacks on education than any other country.

Mr Brown says he wants to help schools "stand up to terrorist violence".

The proposals follow an agreement between Mr Brown and Mr Sharif to improve the safety of schools in Pakistan.

It follows a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December in which more than 140 pupils and staff were killed.

In the past five years, there have been more than a thousand attacks on schools in the same province as Peshawar.

Peace zones

Mr Brown is promoting a plan for safe schools drawn up by education charity, World at School, drawing upon the best practice being used in parts of Pakistan or in conflict zones in other countries.

Image copyright AP
Image caption UN education envoy Gordon Brown is campaigning to create safer schools

It calls for the creation of peace zones around schools, negotiated with local community and religious leaders.

There are proposals for a more systematic approach to security, including boundary walls. security checkpoints and razor wire.

It calls for armed guards on vantage points such as rooftops and tighter vetting checks on security staff.

It warns of concerns over school transport and calls for buses to be checked every day for explosive devices.

If schools are attacked, the report says there must be a way of rapidly calling for assistance and alerting other schools.

Education under attack

There are also suggestions that small schools in isolated areas could be brought together into places where they could be better protected or moved to areas of greater safety.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Security in Peshawar was tight when schools reopened for the new term

Mr Brown, the UN global education envoy, is calling upon the international community to fund the security improvements.

He says such measures to make schools safer will "reassure parents and pupils that everything is being done to counter extremist threats".

A spokesman for Pakistan's prime minister "reiterated his personal commitment" to working with Mr Brown to improve the security of children in school.

Later this year, the UN envoy is expected to support international proposals to give schools and places of education a protected status during military operations.

There have been rising levels of deliberate attacks on schools and colleges, including by Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria.

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