Heritage in ruins: Pindi’s crumbling historic school poses threat to lives of students, teachers

Published: January 12, 2015
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The cracks in the walls and the ceilings are widening with each passing day. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

The cracks in the walls and the ceilings are widening with each passing day. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI: Cracked walls, crumbling ceilings and broken doors, windows and furniture are the hallmarks of the historic Government Christian High School, Rawalpindi. The run-down structure poses a serious threat to the lives of hundreds of students and their teachers.

The cracks in the walls and the ceilings are widening with each passing day and the building faces imminent collapse.

The dilapidated condition of the building, situated on Iqbal Road in Raja Bazaar, speaks volumes about the negligence of the authorities concerned and their non-serious attitude towards taking steps to maintain and upkeep old structures.

The school was built in 1854 on 40-kanal land but with the passage of time half of its premises was occupied by land-grabbers.

Called Mission High School before being nationalised during 1970s, the school has currently 650 students and 35 members of the staff.

“No one from the authorities ever made an attempt to stop the [gradual] destruction of this historic building. If the education department had been vigilant and forthcoming it would have put an end to its destruction,” said the principal of the school, Dr Malik Muzaffar Khan, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday.

According to teachers at the school, the building has not been repaired or renovated during the last 30 years.

Due to the increase in the number of students, the school management recently ‘renovated’ five classrooms to accommodate the students. At the same time, the school management declared around 15 rooms completely unfit for administration of classes. Even the ‘renovated’ classrooms leak when it rains. During rain, the students are sent home to avoid any accident.

A relatively safe big hall is frequently used for administering exams.

In recent past, many parents have shifted their children to other institutes because of the precarious condition of the school building.

“I cannot allow my children to go to this school, it may collapse anytime,” said Khalid Raja, a resident of Purana Qilla.

It is due to this fear, a number of students have opted to leave the school in the last two to three years.

According to the teachers, no funds have been allocated by the authorities for the maintenance and renovation of the school. Termites have eaten the decades-old doors and windows panes, while broken furniture could be seen lying inside the rooms.

The cracks in the walls and the ceilings are widening with each passing day. PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS

Local politicians including Sheikh Rashid and former MNA Shakeel Awan were invited to the school on separate occasions but they too failed to make any commitment to get the funds released for its repair.

No one from politicians to officers in the district government as well as the education department ever made any attempt to rehabilitate the building, which is fast losing its glory and grandeur.

Executive District Officer (education) Qazi Zahoorul Haq could not be reached for his comments despite repeated attempts on his phone.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2015.

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