Pursuit of education: Studying 2+2 in battery cages

Six class rooms for 1,284 students, no shortage of people wanting to study and nowhere for them to sit.

Fazal Khaliq May 05, 2011

SWAT: While there are some government schools with such low enrolments that the government is forced to shut them down, there is one school in Swat that does not know where to adjust its bulging student population.

The Government Primary School in Rahimabad has six rooms for 1,284 students. Mohammad Iqbal, a teacher, said, “Most of them (the students) have to sit outside with no roof over their heads.”

But that’s not the worst bit. Due to limited space the school cannot admit all applicants, thus denying many students their right to an education.

Iqbal added that students sitting outside have to face many problems, such as being sent back home early if it rains. In summers, they have to bear scorching heat.

The school authorities have requested both government and non-government organisations to at least build sheds for the students and are waiting for a response.

Some teachers and students said that due to the extra strength and limited space there is always a lot of noise in the school and almost every class is disturbed by the neighbouring classroom.

Umar Alam, a student of fifth grade, told The Express Tribune, “Our class is very congested so we prefer to move outside; however it is not easy for us either way, as inside there is suffocation and outside extreme noise.”

Imtiaz Khan, a student of grade four, agreed with Umar, saying that there were 150 students in his class, making it “extremely hard” for the teachers to maintain discipline.

Iqbal agreed. “How can a class of a 100 students be taught smoothly?”

He said, “We cannot even do a full roll call in the specified time, the period ends and we are still calling out names.” In his opinion, there should be no more than 40 students in one class.

Sanat Kumar, who teaches kindergarten, said, “It is hard to teach when there is space shortage; it frustrates both teachers and students.”

The school, in addition to the limited space, does not have adequate seating arrangement for the students. Thus hundreds of students have to sit on the ground.

Regarding the unavailability of basic facilities in the school Alam said, “We don’t even have taats (jutemats) to sit on, unlike other schools where students have desks and chairs. Neither do we have [access to] drinking water, we would really like to have all these facilities.”

The school is located up a steep hill, which makes it harder for children to get to school.

Imtiaz Khan, a student, said, “The way to the school is in bad condition, and it gets harder in the rainy seasons because when the road get wet, we often slip.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2011.


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