Thousands of children have been unable to get an education due to the illegal occupation of 285 schools across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
This was stated in a report issued by the K-P Elementary and Secondary Education department’s Independent Monitoring Unit this year. According to the report, 222 buildings of these schools are partially occupied while 63 are entirely occupied.
The illegal occupation of schools increased significantly in September, the report added. This is largely because a large number of internally displaced persons (IDP) sought shelter in government schools in Bannu, DI Khan, Lakki Marwat and various parts of Kohat.
According to the report, a school premises which is being occupied for any purpose other than academic is considered to be illegally occupied.
The IMU report has revealed that six illegally occupied schools are located in Abbotabad. Bannu has 66 schools which have been illegally occupied while Battagram and Buner have two and seven, respectively.
According to the report, Charsadda has 28 illegally occupied schools, Chitral has three, DI Khan has 12 and Upper Dir has 10 while Lower Dir has 15. Moreover, Hangu has three illegally occupied schools, Haripur has seven while Karak and Kohistan have three and two, respectively.
The report stated Lakki Marwat has 16 illegally occupied schools while Malakand has 21, Mansehra has six, Mardan has 18, Nowshera has eight, Peshawar has 14 and Shangla has 12. Meanwhile, Swabi and Tank have five each, Swat has 15 and Torghar has only one.
Cause and effect
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Alif Ailaan Regional Coordinator Umer Orakzai said a large number of government schools in the province have been illegally occupied by landlords, security forces and chowkidars.
“The government should take action against this and reopen these schools,” Orakzai said.
According to the regional coordinator, the displacement of IDPs from Waziristan has led to the illegal occupation of several government schools.
“Students of these schools have been unable to attend classes,” he said. “Rather than focusing on constructing new schools, the government should focus on putting an end to illegal occupation of existing schools.”
However, Education Department Director Muhammad Rafique Khattak informed The Express Tribune that suitable measures have been implemented against the illegal occupation of schools and many of them have reopened.
“Some schools were closed due to the absence of basic facilities and teachers,” he said. “This has been taken care of. A majority of schools in the province have been provided with facilities and we plan to appoint 5,000 teachers across the province.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2014.