LAHORE:November 4: Smog caused a sharp decrease in attendance at schools on Friday, as teachers, students and their parents demanded for a change in the school timings until the smog cleared out. Lahore was hit by dense smog almost a week ago, which is causing several respiratory diseases, eye irritation and many other problems. However, the children – who are said to be hit the most by this smog – have to face it at least two times a day: while going to school and then returning home after attending the schools. According to reports, around 200 to 300 patients having respiratory and eye problems are visiting hospitals on a daily basis. After heavy smog during the last couple of days in the morning, the teachers, students and their parents have demanded the authorities and the associations of private sector schools to change the school timings until the smog had cleared. Talking to Daily Times, Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) General Secretary Rana Liaqat Ali observed that the government should review the school timings due to massive smog prevailing in Punjab. He added that a dense layer of smog was affecting the students of primary classes, which is causing a drop in the daily attendance of students and disturbing their studies. “Therefore, the government should change the timings of single and double shift schools from 10am to 2:30pm in the wider interest of students, especially students of early classes. Sajida, the mother of a class three student, observed that her child had been suffering from eye irritation for the last couple of days and now his eyes were reddish. She went on to say that either the government should control smog or close the schools until the smog had left Punjab. Sajida added that the government’s steps to control smog were temporary as they were waiting for rain to rescue the general masses. However, the fact is that the government’s policies of focusing only on road infrastructure were also a major cause of this smog, she claimed. Mother of a teacher, Shahnaz, whose daughter is a patient of asthma, observed that her daughter was teaching at a private school and was unable to attend the school since the smog had prevailed the city. She added that whenever her daughter goes outside the house, she starts facing breathing problem; therefore she was not going to school. “If the timings would be changed then perhaps it would provide her some relaxation from smog,” Shahnaz said. However, the private schools association has opposed the suggestions, as President of All Pakistan Private Schools Owners Association Kashif Mirza explained that this would not be a good decision. “If the government implements it, the private schools will oppose the decision.” He added that smog’s density remains the same the whole day, so nothing would be done by changing the timings of schools. “Rather the government should take immediate steps for controlling this dangerous smog.” Kashif said that it was not only affecting children but every person who was staying at home or going outside. “If the timings were changed, it would affect the daily routine life of parents,” he added.Published in Daily Times, November 4th 2017.