Sans facilities: Primary school in Nowshera on verge of collapse

Published: November 2, 2015
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Children study under the open sky while one of the classrooms is used as a kitchen and warehouse. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

Children study under the open sky while one of the classrooms is used as a kitchen and warehouse. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

PESHAWAR: There are only two rooms and seven teachers for 350 students at Government Primary School (GPS) Hawai in Adamzai union council of Akora Khattak, Nowshera.

This runs contrary to a policy introduced earlier this year by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government to ensure all schools have six rooms and six teachers.

An insider familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune over the telephone, the school was established in 1983 with the capacity to accommodate only 50 students. “However, the number of students at the institute has increased to 350,” he said.

Teachers have also voiced concerns over the failure of education authorities to take steps to accommodate an ever-increasing number of students. “Even though we have put forward several requests, the authorities have failed to construct new rooms,” he said. “As a result, many students have to study under the open sky.”

Changing the game

The new policy requires the administration of GPS Hawai to step up its game and make necessary adjustments to the school’s structure and management. However, the institution appears to be hobbling under the weight of its own lack of capacity.

According to insiders, only one of the two rooms at the school is used as a classroom. While over a hundred students are cooped up into one room, the other room is used as a kitchen and warehouse. In addition, the school lacks basic facilities like toilets, clean drinking water and electricity. There is neither a staff room nor an office for
the headmaster.

Lack of interest

Speaking to The Express Tribune, GPS Hawai Headmaster Mumtaz Khan flayed the members of the parent-teacher council for not taking an interest in the school’s state of affairs.

“Most members don’t turn up for meetings,” he said. “Only the PTC chairman’s son attends this school. The other members have enrolled their children in other schools. This explains their lack of interest.”

Ijaz Khan, a teacher at the institute, said several written applications have been submitted to the district education department but no action has been taken yet.

“Last year, the department provided funds to build one classroom,” he said. “This is not enough. The building needs to be repaired and renovated. The recent earthquake has left cracks in the structure and we fear the building might collapse.”

Muhammad Tahir, another teacher, said there is no room to accommodate students in the school.

“When it rains, we are forced to send children home because they can’t study in the open sky,” he said.

Fresh targets

An official of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education department told The Express Tribune the previous government had allocated Rs4 million towards the construction of a new school in the area. “The incumbent government tripled the amount and directed the government to spent Rs12 million on a new school.”

According to the official, all schools were previously expected to have two rooms and two teachers.

“The PTI-led government has decided to increase the number of rooms at schools and the strength of teachers,” he added.

No complaints?

When contacted, Nowshera District Education Officer Nisar Khan said no complaints have been received regarding the school.

“I will personally visit this school,” he said. “If there is extra space, we will construct new classrooms. I was only recently transferred to the district and will take notice of the matter.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2015.

 

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