Students of over 22,000 government schools is Punjab that lack playgrounds are finding it hard to spend the days in the buildings in the prevailing hot weather amid frequent power outages.
Of the 48,000 government schools in the province, as many as 22,000 are without playgrounds. The situation is worse in the provincial capital, where 721 of the 1,112 schools are without playgrounds.
Thus 60 per cent government schools in Lahore lack the facility, while the ratio in the province is 40%. They include thousands on girls’ schools. Many of the schools are operating in small buildings, adding to the problems caused by hot weather.
Punjab School Education Department has compiled the data of schools that are without playgrounds for evaluating the facilities available for students across the province.
Under the government rules, it is compulsory for private schools to have buildings with playgrounds for students. However, the requirement is ignored while setting up government schools.
As the hot weather is at its peak in the Punjab, parents and teachers are demanding summer holidays, while the authorities are trying to continue academic activities to make up for the time lost due to the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The students, especially girls, in schools without open spaces are suffering due to the heat and loadshedding and several incidents of children having fainted because of the harsh conditions have also been reported.
According to the data, compiled by the department, the government schools without playgrounds include 525 at Attock district, 1,178 in Bahawalnagar, 615 in Bahawalpur, 662 in Bhakkar, 520 in Chakwal, 326 in Chiniot, 687 in Dera Ghazi Khan, 911 in Faisalabad, 867 in Gujranwala, 604 in Gujrat, 233 in Hafizabad, and 612 in Jhang.
The number of schools lacking the facility in Jhelum is 354, Kasur 580, Khanewal 544, Khushab 476, Lahore 741, Layyah 913, Lodhran 346, Mandi Bahauddin 308, Muzaffargarh 1,071, Mianwali 641, Multan 763, Nankana Sahib 458, Narowal 488, Okara 728, Pakpattan 407, Rahim Yar Khan 1,159, Rajanpur 249, Vehari 591, Toba Tek Singh 415, Sialkot 518, Sheikhupura 568, Sargodha 726, Sahiwal 394 and Rawalpindi 871.
An official of the department pointed out that a large number of students were also deprived of other basic facilities in the schools.
"It is tragic that many schools do not yet have the facility of electricity and clean water. We compiled the data to ascertain the missing facilities and the circumstances in which the students are getting education. We will present this data at different levels and meetings and also request the government to think about providing the missing facilities,” the official said while speaking to The Express Tribune.
"We are teaching our students in very tough conditions and the government should consider the plight of the students who that are deprived of sports facilities in childhood,” Punjab Teachers Union secretary general Rana Liaqat Ali said.
In the hot weather, the thousands of students in such schools have nowhere to go for relief during loadshedding, he added.
"There are even many old schools in Lahore that have not playgrounds. Most of the schools for girls also have no place where students take part in extracurricular activities.
The poor students of these schools also want the same facilities as are available in the elite private educational institutions but the authorities have not paid attention to the issue for long,” said Rubeena Riaz, a schoolteacher.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2021.
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