ISLAMABAD: The principal comes to the school twice a week, marks her attendance and draws full salary every month. But there are no students here.
The Islamabad Model School, in Soan Garden Society, was constructed by the Pakistan Welfare Department (PWD) in 2010 at a cost of Rs3.5 million. Furniture had also been procured for the classrooms.
Four years on, the school has yet to become functional because the Federal Directorate of Education has refused to take control, claiming that the structure was not built according to the PC-1.
The furniture was moved for storage to a nearby PWD school, where it is rotting away. The model school is located in Zone Five near Islamabad Highway and falls in the Islamabad NA-49 constituency, currently represented by Tariq Fazal Chaudhary of the PML-N.
Interestingly, the land for the primary school was donated by local residents who have also been involved in the release of funds from the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue and with documentation work of the PWD.
Last week, while protesting the delay in the opening of the school, locals said they had also filed an application with the prime minister’s complaint cell, but to no avail.
Mansha Sahi is one of the residents who have been pursing earlier inauguration of the school. Talking to The Express Tribune, he demanded that the authorities work out the issue, as the delay is causing frustration among the locals.
“The residents smell a rat, as eight new private schools have been established over the last two years in this fast-growing urban sprawl. People in the FDE or PWD might be orchestrating the delay in school’s opening to benefit the private institutes,” Sahi suspected.
Another resident said the PWD contractor had addressed the FDE’s objection to the building, but still the school was not made functional.
Last week, the residents took to the main building of the school to protest the delay. They said Mumtaz Iftikhar, the principal, comes to the school twice or thrice a week and withdraws a regular salary for running a ‘ghost school’ on the outskirts of Islamabad.
The area has a population of about 8,000 and the residents have no option but to send their children to private schools. Those who cannot afford private schools send their offspring to either Rawalpindi or Islamabad, paying high fares for school vans.
“How strange that a school exists near our homes but we are forced to send our children to other areas or costly private schools,” lamented Muhammad Anwar, a local.
Residents say they are willing to take charge of the school and provide for its expenses if the FDE does not. They said they will start classes on their own if the directorate doesn’t work out the issue at the earliest.
Capital Administration and Development Division Education Joint Secretary Rafique Tahir told The Express Tribune that he had received complaints about the low-quality material used in the building. He said he will visit the school along with the inspection team to get the actual picture.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2014.