Education is something that the people of Mubarak Village consider is necessary for both boys and girls but the residents of this fishing village have nowhere to send their children.
There is only one primary school in the village, which barely fulfils the requirements of a school building, let alone a place where children acquire good quality education. There are around 300 boys and girls enrolled in this facility, which is also being used for the 35 secondary school students.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation appointed eight primary teachers while the Sindh government has only appointed one teacher and a peon for the school, according to the school staff. There are three volunteers from the village who teach a few classes at the school, but without being acknowledged by the government for their services.
Read: Diving into Mubarak Village: Gutka wrappers litter the land with no roads, electricity poles
A schoolteacher told The Express Tribune that the primary school building was built in 1984 when General (retd) Ziaul Haq was in power. The school was upgraded to secondary level in 1992. “No one has been hired for the secondary section,” pointed out a teacher, who wished to remain anonymous. “I was told that there is a team of 17 teachers, including those for science, for the secondary section but only one of them interacts with students and helps them during exams.”
These appointments, which are apparently ‘ghost teachers’, is a menace that plagues the entire province, said a teacher, adding that the primary school teachers are afraid to complain as they want to keep their jobs. “Mubarak Village is hardly considered a part of Karachi and the issue [of ghost teachers] is common across rural Sindh,” said another teacher.
When it comes to facilities, it is hardly surprising that there is no laboratory or a library in the school building. Students of class nine and 10 lack scientific knowledge as they have never stepped foot inside a lab.
According to a teacher Manzoor Baloch, the nearest school that has all science teacher is located around 35 kilometres away from Mubarak Village, in Mauripur. “Parents cannot afford transportation and most of them are unaware of the importance of secondary schooling.
How are students able to appear in annual secondary school examinations given the poor condition of their school? “Sab ho jata hai [everything works out],” a teacher replied.
Much like the rest of the village, the students in the school defecate openly. There are some toilets in the corner of the school grounds but they are not used due to lack of water. Students go behind the building or go to their homes when nature calls. “It is called compromising with the situation,” joked Baloch. The students do not wear uniforms. “Parents can’t afford proper dresses and we don’t compel them to,” he explained.
There is no doubt that the residents want all their children to get educated, claimed Dad Bux, who was appointed at the school in 2009.
“Enrolment will go higher if there is a separate primary school for girls,” pointed out a villager, Khuda Ganj Shaad. “The girls will continue their education if there is a separate secondary school for them as well.”
Some residents are also sceptical about the long-term benefits of the kind of education their children are receiving. “Getting educated is good but there is no outcome,” said an elderly of Mubarak Village, Abdul Rehman Baloch. “Only influential people get jobs and there is nothing for the poor.”
Read: Too many mouths to feed in Karachi’s slum fishermen’s colony
Meanwhile, there is some construction work underway at a new building inside the school premises. The teachers said it is a computer centre. “The building will be inaugurated but it will lack equipment and staff,” said a teacher, who held little hope that conditions will improve. “I don’t think it will be functional, much like our hospital,” added another teacher.
For his part, the elected representative of the constituency admitted he is aware of the issue and will try to resolve it after Eidul Fitr. “I will ask the education director to visit the village the redress the issues immediately,” said Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Muhammad Yousaf Shahwani.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015.
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