PESHAWAR: As the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government strives to bolster its ratio of in-school children, the provincial education department has decided to launch afternoon classes for a particular cross-section of out-of-school children: those who live too far.
The initiative, called sustainable transition and retention in delivering education (STRIDE), will focus on students who have stopped going to school because they are just too far.
According to documents relating to STRIDE, the government found that one of the major reasons why students drop out of school –despite being provided free books, uniforms and even stipends – is the long distances children have to travel to attend middle and high schools.
Officials found that apart from the financial bite the travel takes out of parent’s pockets, the long journey and unavailability of proper transport facility breeds a sense of insecurity along with raising social and cultural concerns preventing parents from sending their children to schools, especially girls.
However, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department (K-P ESED), in collaboration with the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) has undertaken the STRIDE initiative to increase retention and transition rates of boys and girls from primary to middle and middle to high levels.
The initiative will see a pick and drop facility for girls living far from schools – over two kilometres away, while the boys will be provided with bicycles.
With the project due to be piloted in the Swabi and Kohat districts, students will be accommodated in special afternoon classes in 30 primary and middle schools.
Initially, around 1,000 students, including 400 girls, have been enrolled in these classes for which 103 teachers, including 43 female teachers, have been tasked. The government has decided to pay an extra Rs13,000 to the head teacher and Rs12,000 to other teachers every month for teaching extra classes.
K-P ESED Media Advisor Najiullah Khattak told The Express Tribune that the government spends around Rs3,110 spend per student every year. This project, though, will add around Rs925 to that cost.
But the rewards of that extra money spent, Khattak hoped, would be to overcome the drop-out ratio of students due to the long distances between schools.
Explaining what STRIDE does, Khattak said it is an innovative model of context-specific local planning, financing and service delivery to address key dimensions of poor access to education.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2017.