KHAIRPUR NATHANSHAH: The floods might have washed away into the background for most people but for around 3,000 students of Khairpur Nathan Shah, the water is a glaring, current reality.
Three months after the flood hit the town and its adjoining areas, the academic future of the students in these areas remains uncertain. Most of the government institutions are still closed because of standing floodwater inside the buildings and damage to structures.
In the last week of August, over 0.2 million residents migrated to other cities and towns.
“Because of educational problems, thousands of families have decided to settle in Dadu, Kotri, Jamshoro, Hyderabad, Karachi and other places,” lamented Syed Laal Shah, a lawyer and political activist.
“The flood has washed away everything including education and health facilities,” he said, adding that people have realised the importance of education more now that they are bereft of it.
Khairpur Nathan Shah has a Government Degree College (Boys and Girls) which is the only institute of higher learning in the region. However, the academic session has yet to start even though the college has opened up examination form submission.
The town has only one government high school for boys and one for girls – where around 2,000 students are enrolled. Both institutes are closed because of damages incurred in the flood. Water is still standing inside the buildings because, residents allege, the authorities just don’t care.
“These students are under so much stress because their academic year is supposed to conclude in a few months but the institutes have not opened yet,” explained Nazeer Mirani, a social worker. The work is continuing to pile on and the students will have a hard time making up for the lost sessions.
The younger students are also faced with a lot of time on their hands because the primary schools for girls and boys are also boarded shut.
The two government high schools, one in Gozo Union Council and the other in Burirra Union Council, two of the main schools where students from the rural areas of Khairpur Nathan Shah taluka are enrolled, are also closed. Residents said there is around five to seven feet of floodwater inside.
The local administration should have drained out the water in the degree college and then repaired the buildings, said Professor Mansoor Buriro. “If a nation has no education, it means it has no path to development,” he said.
“Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq had said he would waive off flood survivors’ tuition fees but that remains a dream,” said Shah. The education boards are collecting their dues as per schedule, he added.
Shah appealed to higher authorities to waive the tuition fee of flood-affected students in Khairpur Nathan Shah and other affected areas of Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2010.