ABCDE…FIR: Four years of police occupation leaves school in ruins

Published: March 20, 2015
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The dilapidated condition of Mughalkhel Government Primary School. PHOTOS: SALEH DIN ORAKZAI

The dilapidated condition of Mughalkhel Government Primary School. PHOTOS: SALEH DIN ORAKZAI

HANGU: There was a time when Mughalkhel Government Primary School in Balya Maina union council, Hangu was abuzz with students, but then textbooks were replaced by FIRs and students with policemen.

No, it wasn’t a raid—more of a peaceful takeover.

Established in the 90s, the institute provided education for children from surrounding areas. Years later, it was decided a police station would be set up in the locality. That is when education took a backseat and the men in black and khaki were planted at the campus. By the time they left, about four years later, the school’s once sufficient facilities and its reputation were left in tatters.

The dilapidated condition of Mughalkhel Government Primary School. PHOTOS: SALEH DIN ORAKZAI

For students, the hujra of a local resident served as a makeshift school while the police force was apparently maintaining law and order from the institute’s classrooms.

Yearning for a more permanent facility, students and their teachers started looking for alternatives as time went on. Enrollment reduced significantly and there was only one teacher left by the end at the hujra cum school.

Zahid Bangash, a local, says the school was handed back to the education department around six months ago. He adds when students resumed class, they were shocked to find that even basic facilities like the furniture were in a terrible state. Even the boundary wall appeared to be crumbling.

Fazal Jan, the sole teacher at the school, says students are forced to sit on the floor due to a lack of furniture. The dilapidated boundary wall has also heightened the sense of insecurity among the youngsters.

Jan adds the school has 64 students, from kindergarten to grade five. “They will have to brave a harsh summer, rain season and winter as the building is not equipped to handle such conditions,” he highlights. The only remaining teacher claims to have told district education authorities about the miserable state of affairs and to look into the matter.

The dilapidated condition of Mughalkhel Government Primary School. PHOTOS: SALEH DIN ORAKZAI

Fifth grader Abdullah says the school building is not enough for their protection, adding he and his schoolmates feel insecure after the Army Public School massacre in December 2014.

His classmate Abdur Rahim says they are forced to sit on the floor. He believes it is because they are poor that they are being treated in this manner. He echoed the views of fellow students and teachers and asked authorities to provide the school with adequate facilities.

Muhammad Wahab, also a student at the government school, says four years of their lives have been wasted at their makeshift hujra school.

Hangu EDO Iftikhar says the problems faced by the institute have been discussed with the relevant authorities. He assures that concerns surrounding the school staff, furniture and building will be addressed. The Express Tribune learnt that the police station has now been shifted to the premises of Balya Maina basic health unit.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2015.

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