ISLAMABAD: While the drug problem in the capital persists, the absence of boundary walls at unoccupied buildings is like an invitation for them to ‘take over’.
An under-construction building at the Islamabad Model College for Girls (IMCG) Sector I-14/3 in Tarnol has fallen prey to such intruders. Once the college closes for the day, the drug users come in.
The college had been built after former Member National Assembly (MNA) Asia Azeem had secured approval for it by then prime minister Shaukat Aziz in 2004. It was to be built at a cost of Rs75 million over three years.
The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) had planned to build 16 classrooms, an administration block, an auditorium and a library at the college in 2004.
The government, however, could not complete the construction of the building — with the ground floor of the college lacking any doors or windows — even though classes there started in 2012.
The lower section of the building is located adjacent to a storm drain with narrow alleys and passageways. It is the ideal place for drug users to camp and rooms are often found littered with cigarette packets.
While the government continues to spend heavily on infrastructure development in the education sector under the Prime Minister’s Educational Reforms Programme (PMERP) — little has changed at the college. “We feel insecure without a boundary wall,” said a teacher at the college who spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
Apart from an absent boundary wall, the college is apparently functioning without a budget and lacks sufficient teachers.
“We have only five regular teachers, which have been borrowed from other girls’ colleges, to run this degree college along with eight daily wage teachers and five non-teaching staffers. Other degree colleges in the city have over 70 regular teachers in various disciplines,” the teacher said.
Being the only degree college in the area of Islamabad, it serves residents of several private housing schemes, said another teacher at the college.
“We do not have proper laboratories or teaching faculty for students,” the teacher said, adding, “Girls from Sangjani, Golra and Fateh Jang suburbs and other areas have to travel around 30 kilometres to attend colleges in Islamabad and Rawalpindi since this college does not offer enough disciplines due to shortage of teachers.”
The residents of the area have been demanding that the college should be cleaned, its building completed and furnished with proper facilities so that they do not have to send their daughters to far-off colleges. But more than anything, they want access to drug addicts stopped.
“The ground-floor of the college is used by drug addicts and is littered with garbage, broken cigarette stubs and discarded clothing,” said Ismail Khan who lives near the college.
“There are no windows on the lower floor providing easy access [to drug users],” he added.
Another resident, Saleem, said that the building is a hub for criminal activities.
“The building requires immediate attention from the authorities. It should be cleaned, kept in good repair and have a proper boundary wall,” he said.
Meanwhile, officials say they are working on improving conditions at the college
FDE Colleges Director at Ambar Sultana maintained that additional rooms will be constructed at the college while its infrastructure will be developed.
This, she said, was scheduled to take place in the third phase of the PMERP since the first and second phases were dedicated to overhauling schools.
Sultana added that the programme will see faculty and curriculum development at the college, but in phases.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2017.