SWAT: “It was really hard to sit on the floor in winters. It was not only cold but also dusty and my mother would scold me every day for getting my clothes dirty.”
These were the remarks of little Shazia, a second-grade student in Swat, who was happy to be sitting on a bench for the first time since she joined school.
A number of schools in Swat valley lack basic facilities, including furniture for students, due to shortage of funds, forcing them to sit on the floor.
Government Girls Primary School Madyan was amongst them until recently. Students would often complain of inadequate facilities, terming the time spent in school as some sort of punishment.
“We would bring plastic mats from home to protect ourselves from the cold and we would dust our clothes after every period,” said Zohra, a fourth-grade student.
Five schools, including Zohra’s, were given furniture by Sarhad Rural Support Programme.
“We had never seen any furniture in the school since we were enrolled,” said Shahid Hussain and Farmanullah, fourth grade-students from Government Primary School Shingardar.
“Senior students would sit on mats while juniors would be forced to sit on the cold and hard floor,” they added. But now we have these attractive chairs and desks and our classroom is looking good,” the children said.
Teachers were equally happy to see their classrooms furnished. “Our
longstanding demand has been fulfilled. It was really disheartening to see students sit on the floor, because of which they found it hard to concentrate, but now they are taking greater interest in their studies,” said Ayaz Khan, a schoolteacher.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.