As thousands of students in Swat still wait for their school buildings to be reconstructed, there are those who have not gone to schools for more than five years now.
These schools survived the floods, and the militants, and their buildings are intact. But they lack one of the most pivotal ingredients of a school: teachers. Teachers in these schools refuse to attend classes, turning them into all but ghost schools.
Some of the schools which are dysfunctional include Government Girls’ Primary School (GGPS) Kacha Kot, GGPS Kolia, GGPS Ughaz, and GGPS Jabba in Union Council Kokarai.
“We have contacted the District Education Department on several occasions. However, they have not given us any positive response. Sometimes they simply refuse to talk to us,” said Shebar, a local elder of Kacha Kot village.
“We even [approached] our elected representatives and the security forces. But there is no one who listens to our concerns,” he added.
Kacha Kot has 1,000 households and no functional school for girls. The female students have to walk for hours in the pursuit of education, where they study in a co-ed environment.
Khyber Khan, a local activist, said, “The poor communities have no access to education. The teachers are receiving their salaries from the government, but they don’t come and teach our children. No one listens to us, and we are tired of the government’s attitude.”
District Executive Education Officer Sultan Mahmood said he was unaware of the situation. “I have recently taken over this position, and I do not know about the schools that are keeping shut,” he said.
He said he will send a female Deputy District Education Officer (DDEO) to pay a visit to the schools personally to get first hand information on the issue. He also assured to take strict action against school staff members.
The DDEO, in turn, told The Express Tribune that these schools are inaccessible for female teachers, as they are located in far-flung areas. She added her department is looking for local female teachers, and she has suggested hiring male teachers for the schools.
In other areas, some non-governmental organisations have restored certain schools destroyed by the militants but are still not operating due to non availability of female teachers. Meanwhile, local children continue to live without education.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.