SKARDU: The people of Baltistan region have resented reported plans to shift the site of a USAID-funded school of education from Skardu to Gilgit.

Approved in 2012, the school was to be constructed by the Karakorum International University in its Skardu campus, as the USAID had given a donation of $25 million for the purpose to accommodate students under the HEC approved new teacher education degree programmes.

The project is part of USAID financed $300 million project to improve quality of teaching and learning in classrooms at 10 public sector universities throughout the country.

The building of the school of education was to comprise 10 classrooms, a multipurpose hall/auditorium with storage space, science laboratories, a library, a resource centre, a conference room, dean and faculty offices, kitchens, utility rooms and toilets.

Keeping in view the existing insufficient building of KIU Skardu campus to meet requirements for higher education, the KIU Senate in December 2012 had approved the project.

The people of Baltistan were happy that the school would ensure a bright future for their children, but their hopes were dashed when they learnt that some elements in the KIU were opposing it.

It has been learnt that during the tenure of former KIU vice chancellor Dr Najma Najam, some elements tried to shift the school project to Gilgit and also selected a piece of land there.

These elements also made the USAID officials visit the selected site in Gilgit city, but the latter rejected the location.

Talking to Dawn senior PML-N leader Haji Fida Mohammad Nashad said a particular lobby in the KIU was creating hurdles in the construction of school.

He said there was no issue of land in Skardu and the region deserved to have the educational institution as it lagged behind in education. Saying that Gilgit division was already enjoying teachers training facilities, Mr Nashad demanded of the KIU vice chancellor Professor Mohammad Asif to order construction of school in Skardu without delay.

Agha Raza, president of the Students Organising Committee of KIU Skardu campus, as the campus building was insufficient to accommodate increasing number of students, the school of education should be set up there. He said that the campus neither had a library nor a computer lab.

Mr Raza said that alleged shifting of the project from Skardu to Gilgit by the KIU administration was a conspiracy to deprive the students of Baltistan of quality education facilities.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2015

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