RAWALPINDI, Nov 2: Little Shazia was aghast at being asked by her teacher to write about her school building. After all, she belongs to the 150 students thrown out of what used to be their school building and now studying on the roadside at Saddar.
“My teachers asked me to write an essay on my school but I refused. How can I describe the building which is not there. We sit on the footpath to get education,” the 10-year-old told Dawn.
She said her father was working in a private firm and could not afford to send her to a private school. Shazia said she wanted to continue education and become a doctor.
“We daily come here and sit on the roadside and the classes begin. No ground for playing, no washroom, no watercooler, this is our school,” she said.
Shazia and her schoolmates were displaced after their Pak-Islamia Elementary School was vacated from a rented building at Ahata Fazal Elahi in Saddar in August.
The same month, the education department merged the institution with Government Girls High School Dhoke Ratta. However, the parents of the students rejected the move, saying the school was far away from their locality.
Later, the district education department shifted the displaced students to the building of Government Model Boys High School at Chotta Bazaar in Sadder after moving the boy students to Denny’s High School at Marrir Chowk.
But on October 4, the parents of both the boys’ and girls schools staged a protest demonstration as the former refused to send their sons to Denny’s High School and the latter were against admitting their daughters to the model school surrounded by auto workshops.
To resolve the issue, PML-N MPA Shehryar Riaz hired another building for the girls’ school at Molvi Mohalla in Saddar and handed over the documents to Executive District Officer (education) Qazi Zahoorul Haq on October 4. The EDO then canceled the transfer and merger of the boys’ school.
However, the promise made by the MPA for the new building did not materialise even after the passage of about one month. As a result, Pak-Islamia Girls School is holding classes along Adamjee Road in Saddar.
On October 30, the education department issued a notification to shift the Islamia School to Government Model High School for Boys. But the school boys staged a protest on Thursday and did not allow the merger of their institution with the girls’ school.
As a result, the education department closed down the school till further orders.
“The owner refused to give his building for the school and we asked Pak-Islamia School to shift to Government Boys High School. However, the teachers provoked the parents and their children who staged the protest demonstration yesterday,” said the executive district officer (education) while talking to Dawn.
He said due to shortage of staff and buildings, the department had the right to merge the schools. “We have made arrangements at the Government Model High School. Classes for the girl students will be held in the evening and for boys in the morning,” he added.
He claimed that MNA Malik Shakil Awan had persuaded the parents to agree to the arrangements till March 31, and after the annual examination the boys will be shifted to Denny’s High School.
However, the EDO’s claim was disputed by the parents who said the issue was yet to be resolved. The MNA did not meet us and announced the decision after meeting the education department officials, said Malik Naeem, the father of four students of Pak-Islamia Girls School.
He said the parents would resist the move to force their daughters to take classes in the evening as it would not be possible for them to continue education. He said the government should provide an alternative space for the school.
“We asked the education department to shift the school to a nearby under-construction girls’ degree college or to a high school,” said Tahir Butt, the resident of the area.
When contacted, MNA Malik Shakil Awan told Dawn that after meeting the parents and education officials, it was decided that the education department would hold morning classes for the boys and evening classes for the girls. He said the education department had canceled the notification and resolved the issue.