SWABI: Besides the family and friends of NGO workers killed in Swabi, nearly 200 students are among those directly affected by the January 1 attack.
Among seven slain workers, five were teachers at the Ujala Community School, which was established in Sher Afzal Bandha, Swabi on May, 2011 under the umbrella of Support With Working Solution (SWWS).
Following the death of the teachers, which included the head teacher of the institution, the school was closed until further notice. Now students at the primary school are out of class and are only found roaming around the area.
“Reopening the school will take a long time because there is much fear in the area following the attack,” said SWWS Executive Director Javed Akhtar. “We will hire new teachers, but female teachers are not likely to join,” he said, adding that the NGO will, however, carry on their educational projects and will not shut down the institution. All schools run by the NGO are functional in Mardan.
Muhammad Shafiq, a resident of Sher Afzal Bandha, said he was uncertain about what would happen next and requested the government to take the matter seriously. “This was the only school which provided quality education.”
Programme Manager for Peace Education and Development Foundation, Tariq Hayat Khan, asked the government to give government school status to the school to encourage teachers to join. “No one will join an NGO-run school after this gruesome act,” he added. He was, however, sceptical about the government’s stance over the matter, adding that so far nothing has been done and the government was “least bothered” about it.
Khan said stricter measures need to be adopted to ensure security. “The government should provide security to female teachers, at least temporarily.”
He further said that the education budget should be allocated and spent judiciously to increase the literacy rate in the country.
Elementary and Secondary Education Department Deputy Director Farid Khattak said their department was ready to extend its support and do what it takes to increase the literacy rate. The authorities concerned should take the issue to the EDO Education, he said.
The NGO had suspended its activities for three days to mourn the deaths of its workers, but the reopening date has yet to be announced.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2013.