Empty desks: Bakhshali girls secondary school too far to walk it

Published: January 13, 2016
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Govt Girls Higher Secondary School Bakhshali Mardan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Govt Girls Higher Secondary School Bakhshali Mardan. PHOTO: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: The government girls high school in Bakhshali, Mardan was functional when it started in 2009. However, ever since it was turned into a higher secondary school in 2014, it has been lying abandoned. Locals lay the blame on the remote location of the school – two kilometres away from main Bakhshali bazaar.

Fida Jan, a resident of Bakhshali, told The Express Tribune the previous government’s MPAs constructed the school without consulting locals.

He added the MPAs did so to get votes for the following elections. Jam said they also appointed their own people as teachers and class-IV employees. He criticised Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Imtiaz Khan Shahgai, who was behind the construction of the school, saying Shahgai approved it for his own benefit.

Jan also blamed the incumbent government’s policies and said it should shift the school to the residential area or to a roadside, so the amount (Rs18 million) spent on the school does not go to waste.

Walking to school

Another local, Safdar Ali, said parents were reluctant to allow their girls to walk two kilometres through the fields to reach the school. He reiterated Jan’s comments, saying politicians only think of their own benefits and do not consider those who vote for them.

He requested Minister for Education Atif Khan, who is from the area, to arrange schooling facilities for girls. Up to 80% of potential students are deprived of an education due to the GGHS’ location.

Maqbool Khan, another resident of Bakhshali, said the school’s vacant building is used by thieves and drug abusers, who go there at night to use the abandoned structure.

Open but closed

The school was upgraded by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in 2014. It was approved as a high school by Shahgai. A well-furnished building was completed – two storeys and 10 rooms which are all vacant as parents do not allow their young girls to walk far from home.

K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Additional Secretary Qaiser Alam Khan denied the school was lying empty, saying all educational institutes in the area were open and running.

Mardan DEO Samina Khan said the school was turned into a high school upon the request of locals. She added her office has not received any complaints regarding the school.

An official working with the DEO’s, Khalid Khan, said the building was undergoing some construction work which was why students do not go there. Khalid admitted the school was far from the residential areas, but, he added, locals were not ready to provide a closer stretch of land to build it. He refuted the claim that the building was used for other purposes. Nevertheless, he said the construction will complete soon and classes will resume for girls of the area.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2016.

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