PESHAWAR: “We had no school prior to this one. We ran around and worked for Khan and his family. I like school and want to go to the college,” said eight-year-old second grader Haya Khan with a resolve in his voice.
The Primary School Sherabad in Rustam village of Mardan district was retrieved for the children of the area after 28 long years of closure on November 21, 2014.
The school was established in 1985 but remained closed due to a land dispute that emanated from the gross neglect and indifference of the previous governments.
KP education department made functional around 100 closed schools in last few months
Although the school, non-functional for 28 years, still lacks facilities, its re-opening itself was momentous for the area children, who had long been deprived of the right of education.
The children showed relief and contentment on the opening of the school despite the concomitant challenges.
As the school was being cleaned and hay was stocked up in sacks outside the yellowish old building, the children joyously waited outside looking at the school.
The provincial education department has recently re-opened non-functional schools by making efforts to resolve the issues behind the schools not functioning for quite some time.
Rehman Zeb, a student of fifth grade at Government Primary School Tora Banda, also studies at one such school, which has been re-opened after seven years of closure.
“I had to travel every day for one and a half hour to reach school. At times it all starts at the crack of dawn but even then I didn’t reach there on time. However, today I wasn’t late as my new school is near my house,” said Zeb.
On December 15, 2014, Zeb’s school reopened after seven years of closure.
Until now, 48 students have got themselves enrolled in the school.
Many of them have to travel on foot for hours to reach their previous school, which was quite far away from where they lived. Officials at the education department said the problems in education sector varied from ghost schools to decrepit infrastructure, missing facilities, corporal punishment and a non-serious attitude of teachers.
The provincial government has declared an education emergency, so while identifying some of the problems affecting government schools, some educational institutions were found to be non-functional for decades.
“Some of such forgotten schools have been closed and locked down from memory and sight not for years but decades,” officials said.
In the last few months, the elementary and secondary education department has made functional almost 100 schools, which were closed for multiple reasons.
The department has launched a massive campaign to reclaim non-functional schools, refurbish them with basic facilities and make them functional, officials said.
To bring uniformity in educational system of the province, it is essential that first the basic prerequisites for it are met.
Although the government is doing its best on education, there is still a lot to be done because this sector has been neglected not for years but for decades, said an official while admitting the challenge the government faced in the re-opening of non-functional and closed schools.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2015