Despite the government’s tall claims of improving education in the province, a number of public schools in Haripur are crumbling due to negligence of the authorities.
Situated at a distance of 40 kilometres from the city, Government Higher Secondary School for Boys Kakotri is one such school which hosts a multitude of problem for its students.
A visit to the institute revealed that several of its classrooms which were damaged during the 2005 earthquake are still awaiting rehabilitation, while their damaged roofs pose a constant threat to those underneath. The rooms lack electric fans and tube lights, while the shortage of furniture has forced students to sit on rags during classes.
“We keep praying for out children’s safety till they come home,” said Mian Dad, a resident of Kakotri village. He said that reconstruction work at the school has not been carried out despite repeated requests to the education department.
Established in 1925 as a primary school, it was upgraded to a middle school in the 1970s and later to a higher secondary school in 2000. However, due to unknown reasons, classes for higher secondary students formally began a decade later in 2010.
Moreover, despite being built primarily for boys, the school began enrolling girl students due to lack of a high school for them in the area. Currently, a total of 281 students, including 60 girls, are enrolled in the institute.
Among the nine classrooms for middle school students, of which five were severely damaged during the earthquake, the remaining four classrooms are also in a shambles. Meanwhile, two of the nine classrooms for higher secondary students are also awaiting reconstruction despite passage of six years.
Leakages from roofs have also been observed in some of the classrooms, where the cracks have widened to an extent that they cannot be repaired.
To add insult to injury, the school is also short on teaching staff. According to officials, the education department has approved 23 teachers for the institute but currently only six teachers are present who are teaching the large number of students.
“Usually a principal only take one or two classes a day, but due to shortage of staff I have to take seven classes, giving me little time to handle administrative issues,” said Ejaz Khan, the school principal.
Besides all that, there is only one washroom for boys and girls in the entire school.
“We feel really uncomfortable using the same washrooms with boys and most of us have to go all the way home during recess time if need to use the toilet,” said Sidra, a 10th grade student.
Sagheer Shah, a local villager, accused the political leadership of showing no interest in education. He said that Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s Pir Sabir Shah had been voted several times but he never bothered to initiate the building’s repair.
When contacted, District Education Officer Malik Abbas acknowledged that the school was lacking essential facilities, adding that the department has requested the provincial government to fill the vacant posts and initiate the building’s rehabilitation.
“An amount of Rs200,000 has been allocated for essential items, which will be released shortly to the parents teachers committee,” he explained. The funds, he assured, will be spent under the committee’s supervision.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2012.
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