School takeover imperils future of 600 students

Students forced to drop out of government school after illegal occupation by Mingora police following a suicide attack

Fazal Khaliq October 26, 2010

SWAT: Up to 600 students who were enrolled in a local primary school until February 2009 are now working at automobile workshops. The students were forced to drop out of the Government Primary School No 4 when their school building was illegally occupied by the Mingora police following a suicide attack last year.

The attack took place on February 6, 2009.

“When the students came to their school on the morning of February 7, 2009, the building was crammed with policemen and checkpoints were created at every corner and even on the school roof,” Niaz Ahmand, a local journalist told The Express Tribune.  The students were sent back home and deprived of education for up to six months, until they were directed to go to the high school building in the evening shift by the education department.

The fate of more than 900 students in Swat hangs in the balance as more than 400 schools were destroyed by insurgents and 73 more were washed away in the recent floods. And the new wave of illegal occupations of school buildings by the Swat police has made education a more difficult task.

“We had more than 900 students in this school out of which only 300 are coming to the evening shift. Some 600 students have left their schools, among which some are learning crafts while others have become a victim to child labour,” a school teacher told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

Talking about lobbying to vacate the school building he said, “We met the police officers many times but they are unwilling to move out.”

School principal Dawa Khan in this regard said that children are not taking interest in the evening shift due to which the strength of the students is decreasing day by day.

Two weeks ago, the deputy inspector general at Malakand region, Qazi Jamilur Rahman, said: “I personally feel time is being wasted of the students as the school building has been occupied by the police and I assure that in the next three weeks the police will be shifted and the school building will be evacuated.” However, there is no sign of any evacuation in the school building, which was illegally captured by law enforcement agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2010.

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