On the outskirts: A tale of two neglected govt schools

Damaged walls and leaky ceilings are just a few of the features of the structurally unsound buildings


Shazia Mehboob/Ishaq Abbasi February 06, 2016
The buildings are at risk in case of an earthquake or heavy rain, as cracked walls could easily cave in. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: While education authorities have been claiming to streamline and restructure the tattered education system, at least in the federal capital, with the provision of state-of-the-art facilities, the condition of two government schools on Islamabad’s outskirts contradicts their assertion, to say the least.

With damaged walls, leaky ceilings, backed up toilets and other infrastructure flaws, Aamish Salman Shaheed Model High School for Boys and Zulqarnain Model Primary School for Boys Sangjani — which are among the 122 schools in Islamabad recently renamed after Army Public School Peshawar attack victims — speak volumes for the sorry state of affairs at government schools in rural Islamabad.

Both schools operate on the same premises with separate staff and management, serving children from 18 villages with a total population of around 50,000. They lack basic facilities including sports fields, water taps, furniture, libraries, and labs. What they do have are cracked walls, seeping ceilings, run-down furniture, poor infrastructure and pitiful security arrangements.

Area residents said that they reluctantly send their children to the schools as theie only other options are private schools, which they cannot afford.

Poor security at the schools creates vulnerability to sabotage or terrorism, given the security situation of the country.

Though the students are eager to learn, most of their teachers, no doubt dedicated, lack the requisite skills and pedagogical proficiency to teach from the new English medium books, introduced as part of the changed curriculum.

The schools buildings are also at risk in case of an earthquake or heavy rain, as the cracked walls could easily cave in, putting the lives of students, teachers and non-teaching staff at stake.

The schools have six toilets in all, but only three of them work, while the stench from the others was strong enough to knock out an elephant.

The locals and school administrations said that they have repaired the washrooms on their own several times, but the issue keeps reoccurring.

The high school has 428 students, while the primary school has 317 students.

The students said that of the 12 primary section classrooms, four are too dark to work in, as illegally-constructed buildings next door have blocked the windows.

Although the primary school has CCTV cameras at its main entrance, there is no auxiliary power system to run them during load shedding. The schools also lack boundary walls and security guards.

Meanwhile, more than 18 kanals of empty Punjab government land is next to the schools, but the children are not allowed to play there.

Muslim Khan, a local, complained that the government negligence has put the future of hundreds of students at stake.

Aamish Salman Shaheed Model High School for Boys Principal Imtiaz Khan Jadoon said he has sought help from the Federal Directorate of Education several times, but his requests have fallen on deaf ears.

In addition, the high school, which is divided into different sections, has only 15 teachers and most of them lack proficiency in teaching subjects in English medium.

Jadoon said that three teachers’ positions and a post of a lab technician have been vacant for many years, while the school has no security guard or sanitary worker. He said the school has insufficient budget to carry out repair work and purchase furniture.

He admitted that the school building was at risk of collapsing.

The primary school administration said that head teacher’s post has been vacant for the last two years.

Area Education Officer Sadia Adnan said she has recently assumed charge and was not familiar with the problems facing the schools. She said that the schools’ annual budget will be increased in the next fiscal year to get any required work done.

Union Council-48 Chairman Azam Khan said he has met with Capital Administration and Development Division Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry to discuss the condition of the schools and was assured by the minister that they would be upgraded.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2016.

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