A jirga in upper Swat has handed the government an ultimatum; fix the local boys school within a week or else the residents will raze it to the ground once and for all.
The future of 300
As many as 300 students are enrolled at the government-run boys school in Pashmal. No more than two teachers are there to prepare the children for their future. Around 15 faculty positions remain vacant.
There was a time when the institution had a functioning computer laboratory. Over the years, the dozen computers vanished into thin air, one at a time. After exhausting all efforts to get the government to repair and staff the school, residents of Aryani Kas area of Madyan called a jirga this week and announced they would demolish the facility.
Addressing the jirga, Muhammad Raheem, a local, said despite making tall claims about revolutionising the education sector, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has done little on ground. Also speaking on the occasion, Malik Afzal Zada, another local, said earlier five teachers were appointed at the school but only two actually turn up every day to conduct classes. Three have been on a ‘long leave’.
“Appointees get themselves transferred to other areas,” he said. Afzal Zada added, “Headmaster Fazal Rabi has been on leave for the past two months but the attendance register says otherwise.”
He urged the government to take the entire school management to task. “We don’t need such schools. We will demolish the structure.”
Local elder Alam Zain said numerous delegations visited the EDO office to register a complaint but to no avail. “One of the teachers Qari Hussain has connections in the government, so no action is ever taken.”
Social activist Mutahir Ali said, “It is our land. We gave it to the government to build a school for our children. We will take it back.” He said if all the teachers did not show up at the school, the building would be razed to the ground.
When approached for a comment, Hussain somewhat agreed he had influence with local politicos but said he never used it for any favours. “I am not responsible for the dilapidated condition of the school.”
He added the jirga wants to construct a hotel or a restaurant in place of the school. “The future of their children does not worry them. All they care about is money,” he said.
EDO Zulfiqar Khan said he was transferred to the area recently and is unaware of the situation at GHS Pashmal. “I will take action soon,” was all he had to say.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.