KARACHI: A primary school is supposed to be a safe haven for children, where they form the earliest memories of their lives and make their first paintings. However, there is a school in Badin where the police disrupt lessons by bringing in suspects for interrogation and holding meetings to discuss crime in the area.
School buildings in the province are commonly used as polling stations during elections but are turned into relief camps when natural disasters strike. But in Seerani, Badin, two rooms of the Government Boys and Girls Primary School have been occupied since last year by the police. The police post in Seerani was destroyed during the floods in 2011 and the police decided to take over a part of the primary school to continue their activities. The students are taught in the atmosphere where criminals are interrogated and meetings are conducted to discuss crime in the area. The police use same washroom as the schoolchildren.
The dropout rate is increasing as students feel uncomfortable by the presence of the law enforcers. “Our children are afraid of the police and can’t study in this environment,” said a parent, Altaf. “We have requested police and education officials to leave the building, but nothing has been done as yet. The future of our children is at stake,” he added.
A school teacher, Ghulam Abbas Shah, said that a part of the school had been turned into a lounge for policemen where they entertained guests. “There is always commotion and it disturbs us when we are trying to teach the children. It is a primary school and the children feel very uneasy,” he added.
He also told The Express Tribune that though 350 children were enrolled at the school, only 125 of them were attending classes. He added that officials from the education department were aware of the issue but had not taken any concrete steps. “I fear that one day this will become a police station rather than a school.”
The officer in charge of the police post, Muhammad Siddique Dal, said that it was the students who were disturbing the activities of the police. “They make a lot of noise and this disturbs us when we bring a criminal. We don’t want to occupy the school but have no option. We’ll shift to another place or to our own police post if it is built,” he said. Badin SHO Abdul Raheem Khaskheli told The Express Tribune that the police has occupied the office of the headmaster, not the classrooms. “Do you think the policemen are criminals and can’t stay in a building?” he said angrily. “I’ll ask Dal to vacate the school as soon as possible and find another place. Even a tree will do!” He added that he has requested the authorities to make a police station in Seerani because of its growing population. “But we have not even been provided with a proper building for a police post,” he complained. Badin SSP Fida Hussain Mastoi could not be reached for comment.
According to Sindhi newspaper, Daily Kawish, 325 primary schools in the district are closed while some others are being managed by the social organisations. About 1,120 schools in Badin were affected during the floods of 2011 but reconstruction work has not started. The paper further disclosed that most of the girls’ schools in the area are in vulnerable condition.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2012.
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