Earthquake aftermath: For displaced students, no school to call their own

Due to delays in reconstruction of girls’ primary school building, students being made to relocate repeatedly.


Muhammad Sadaqat September 02, 2012

ABBOTABAD:


Students of a government primary school for girls in Nagri Totiyal have seen some tough times.


After the 2005 earthquake ravaged their school building, they were forced to take lessons outdoor under the harsh weather. Later, they were sent to a seminary, which is an extension of a local mosque. When the seminary authorities decided to renovate the building in 2010, the students were again made to relocate.

The fourth and fifth graders were sent to one of the three rooms at the residence of Akhtar Jamil, who is based in Rawalpindi but lives in Abbottabad during summer. Meanwhile, students of kindergarten, grade one, two and three were shifted to another building about half a kilometre from the village.

However, after hosting the teachers and students for nearly two years, Jamil has reportedly gotten the building vacated from the school administration. He maintained that it had become impossible for him to accommodate the school strength and his family in the congested building simultaneously.

Informed sources told The Express Tribune on Monday that the disorientation has led to closure of the school. On the other hand, the school authorities claim to have made alternate arrangements by shifting the students to another house close to the village.

When contacted, Assistant District Officer Female Education (Primary) Taslim Bibi said, “The building owner asked the head teacher, Nighat, to vacate the building a few days back and we relocated two classes to another house.” She added that Nighat had been running the school affairs at her own house since the school had gotten no funding for reconstruction.

Taslim denied the notion that the unavailability of a building would hinder academic activity, saying that the school had been operating for the last seven years and would continue despite delay in completion of the original school building. She said that the contractor began construction of the school a few years back but suspended work due to unclear reasons.

As a result, the school had gotten split into two ‘campuses’. The fourth and fifth grades were relocated in Nighat’s house, while other grades were shifted to a single-room with four teachers from a total of six, at a high school building. Taslim added that even though the high school was filled over capacity, but on her request, the principal agreed to spare a room for four classes with over 100 students. She further said that she had written to the higher authorities many times about the problems the students face without a school building, but the delay by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) has exposed the students to difficulties.

“The education department and political leadership are equally responsible of depriving my daughter of education,” said Sardar Waleed, whose daughter is a fifth-grader in the school. He added that the political leadership could have gotten the issue resolved had they been loyal to their electorates. However, splitting the school into far-off ‘campuses’ reflected the indifference of the authorities towards the locals, he observed.

Sources at the education department said that there were 40 girls’ primary schools in the Nagri Circle, with a total of 2,700 students. Half of these schools lack basic facilities. But despite multiple visits by the ERRA authorities, there was hardly any improvement. “Many schools are running in tents or private setups since their buildings which were destroyed by the earthquake have not yet been reconstructed,” said Abbottabad District Primary Education Officer Sadia.

An official of the department’s planning and development section said that he had written to ERRA and the provincial education secretariat for intervention many times but in vain.

Despite many attempts, the concerned official of ERRA could not be contacted.

As per the education department, Government Girls Primary School Nagri Totiyal has strength of over 137 students. Of these, 30 are enrolled in kindergarten, 26 in first grade, 17 each in the second and third grades, 13 in fourth grade and 34 in fifth grade.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2012. 

COMMENTS (3)

saira | 9 years ago | Reply

sham for our education bosses.I ask where are the so called social workers and Human right acitivitists

obaid | 9 years ago | Reply

I must add here that the valley of Nagri totial remained a center of all political and social activities of the then frontier.A lot of renouned political and social figuers hailed from this valley.However after passing of great time the inhabitants of this valley are suffering a lot of problems as no one is taking care of the,.Political activitst visit here just to fetch votes only .The reporter has rightly painted the gloomy picture of the education status in the valley for which he should be congratulated.

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