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Govt schools, colleges giving publicity a shot

LAHORE, Oct 26: Government schools and colleges have started relying on private companies to sponsor and prepare face boards for them instead of using their own funds, a survey reveals.

It is learnt that most of the schools and colleges have got more than one face board sponsored by advertisement companies and the trend is becoming popular with every passing day. Advertisement companies prepare and provide free-of-cost face boards to government schools and colleges and advertise various products on them. Most common products advertised on these boards include cosmetics products such as various kinds of skin creams and shampoos. Fizzy drinks are also advertised on such boards. The Government Higher Secondary School Sant Nagar, the Government Mussarat Girls Middle School Bund Road, the Government MAO College Lower Mall and Vocational Training Centre of Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) located near the office of the district coordination officer are some of the institutes who have availed the services of advertisement agencies. A school teacher, seeking anonymity, said governments was giving meagre funds to schools especially primary and elementary schools owing to which the management of these schools was relying on private companies to provide them free-of-cost face boards. He said management of institutions should realise the importance of advertisement and charge monthly fee from advertisers since private companies were being given proper space on the boards.

An official of the Education Department said schools and colleges were free to make deals with advertisement companies because the department was yet to evolve a policy on it. He expressed his fear saying there were chances that management of some institutions would have made under hand deals with advertisement companies since it was a profitable business these days and providing a free of cost face board alone was not a big deal. Talking to us, stakeholders including parents of students and teachers expressed their concern over the matter, saying advertisement of substandard products could prove harmful since advertisements effect the psychology of individuals. He said if department could not chalk out a policy then it should ensure that only safe and quality products were being advertised on these boards.

Talking to us, Government MAO College Principal Prof Maksud ul Hassan Bokhari said there was no harm if some part of a board was being used for advertisement of various consumer products. He said that private companies involved in such businesses should also provide water coolers and other essential items to schools and colleges, including fans, since these companies generate handsome money through advertisements. He said MAO College face board was prepared by an advertisement company few years ago but when the company refused to install water coolers for students in the college premises the contract was cancelled.

Education Secretary Syed Khalid Akhlaq Gillani was not available as he was in India to attend an international conference. The News twice tried to contact Higher Education Special Secretary Syed Mubashar Raza but he was not available.Special Secretary Schools Capt (r) Zahid Saeed said primary and middle schools had no funding in past but now these were being provided Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000 per year by district governments. He said there was no harm if schools and colleges were getting free-of-cost face boards installed. The News

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