Most educational institutes in militancy-hit Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) lack basic facilities, which are becoming a major hurdle in efforts to increase enrolment.
During the on-going conflict in Khyber, education has been one of the worst hit sectors. Thousands of children remain deprived of their right to education as on one hand militants target academic institutions and on the other hand the government cannot access these areas to provide basic facilities to functional schools.
A number of schools and colleges in Bara, Jamrud and Landikotal tehsil lack the facilities of potable water, electricity, toilets and boundary walls.
According to the FATA Secretariat Education Department there are 782 state-run educational institutes in Khyber Agency - 462 for boys and 320 for girls. As many as 455 schools are functional, 267 are non-functional and 60 have been closed for the past few years.
Out of these 782 educational institutes, 465 schools and colleges are without boundary walls, 595 have no facilities for potable water, 475 do not have electricity and 557 do not have toilets. Students of these institutes still persevere.
Thirteen-year-old Saifullah of Government Primary School Jamrud said, “We come to school every day in clean clothes but return in dirty ones. We sit on the floor for our lectures and have to use the fields as toilets.”
Yousaf Ali said they use their textbooks and copies to fan themselves and if they are thirsty they have to fetch water from nearby houses. He said the government should provide basic amenities to schools as their education was being affected.
FATA Secretariat’s Education Department’s Planning and Development Director Hashim Khan Afridi told The Express Tribune the ratio of education in various tehsils of the agency has been declining rapidly because of lack of facilities in schools.
“Under the Annual Development Programme (ADP), water facilities, electricity, additional rooms and exam halls will be provided in existing schools and colleges,” Afridi said.
The director added 144 schools and college will also be provided solar panels to overcome the issue of load-shedding. The provision of modern computer labs is also on the ADP’s agenda.
“The main reason behind children dropping out of school is the lack of facilities therefore the focus of the current ADP is to redress these issues,” Afridi maintained.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.