HYDERABAD: Residents of Matiari, in a protest on Monday, tried to raise the issue of tumbledown school buildings in the district and the threat they posed to the lives of teachers and students. Local residents, teachers, parents and representatives of various political parties gathered in Saeedabad town to hold a demonstration and folded black pieces of cloth over their eyes to symbolise the officials' indifference to the issue.
The protesters claimed that the buildings of 385 schools in the district were dangerous and required immediate repair. "There is no drinking water at 480 schools, no electricity at 315 and no compound walls at 243," claimed Rehmatullah Balal, an activist who was among the organisers of the three-day protest, which will end tomorrow (Wednesday).
Citing official figures about the state of facilities at government schools, Balal claimed that 613 schools also required furniture. None of the higher secondary schools in the district were equipped with a science laboratory, he added.
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"The education department and contractors have utilised over Rs1.5 billion during the last few years but it is evident from the condition of the schools that the money was not spent on their upkeep or rehabilitation," claimed Haji Waris Memon, a local resident. Another resident, Sardar Farooq, alleged that the contractors, in collusion with the government officials, were involved in corruption in the school funds.
The protesters requested the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the condition of school buildings in Sindh. They also demanded that the National Accountability Bureau start an investigation regarding embezzlement of funds.
"We demand a judicial investigation of the funds utilised in the name of repair, maintenance and rehabilitation of schools during the last 10 years in Matiari," read a placard. "Catch the contractors who have left the construction or repair works unfinished," read another one.
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Local leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) - Nawaz, PML-Functional, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and nationalist parties participated in the protest along with representatives of the Government School Teachers Association.
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