ISLAMABAD: This is one of the ‘model schools’ in the federal capital, where most of the students have to sit in a tent or under the open sky to pursue education.
Around 230 students of the Islamabad Model School for Girls (IMCG), Dhoke Suleman in Sector H-13, are forced to take classes in the open come rain or shine. The school has six classrooms which are already crowded. At the commencement of the academic session 2015, the school admitted a large number of students, mostly out-of-school children (OSC) that further squeezed the congested space.
As a result, the headmistress had to divide the school into two divisions - old students and OSC. All the newcomers/OSC, from Prep to IV classes, are now sitting under a canopy and the open space on shabby rugs.
“I don’t want to continue education in this suffocated camp. I’m feeling headache since morning. There is no fan either,” said eight-year-old Sadia Hamid. She said she wanted to sit in a classroom where she and her other fellows could enjoy furniture and fans.
Like Sadia, her class-fellow Fatima Waheed, 8, also expressed disappointment. On the other hand, three-grader Maryam Nasrullah, who was forced to sit under the open sky, envied those sitting under the canopy.
“We should at least be provided a camp if there is no classroom,” she said.
Around 230 students of Islamabad Model School for Girls, Dhoke Suleman, in Sector H-13 are attending classes in the open
“Every day, we have to face the scorching heat. It’s really very tough for us,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Directorate of Education(FDE), which supervises around 422 schools and colleges in the capital, has also failed to provide new textbooks to the students.
Somehow, Headmistress Salma Shafat managed to provide old books of the senior students to scores of the newcomers. But still a large number of the students are without books.
“This school is s snapshot of the performance of our rulers. It’s a matter of shame for all of us. Imagine how difficult is it for even elders to sit under the scorching heat,” said Mohammad Ibrar, a local resident. He said education was not a priority of our rulers and students of rural areas were being treated as children of a lesser God.
“The rulers always try to initiate multi-billion projects but never bother to invest in the education sector,” he said.
It may be mentioned that the IMCG is the only institution in the thickly-populated Dhoke Suleman and adjoining areas. A majority of its students come from the underprivileged families. And there is no high school in the entire locality.
According to the locals, a majority of students after passing the fifth class abandon their education.
The headmistress of the school told Dawn that over 1,000 children were still out-of-school in the locality.
“I have been trying my best to accommodate a maximum number of students but can’t provide them furniture and classrooms,” she said.
Ms Shafat said there were already 313 students in the school but she gave admissions to over 230 students this year.
“Now, we have over 500 students. I’m worried how I can accommodate all the students,” she said and added that talks were underway with the locals for the donation of a piece of land. “If we are provided land, the education department will construct new classrooms,” she said.
A teacher of the school told Dawn that due to the scorching heat students often complained of illness. “I fear some of these students will leave the school and then history will not forgive us,” she said.
Malik Mehrban, a noted personality of the area, told Dawn that he had been pursuing the school’s expansion case for the last three years but to no avail.
“I’m astonished what the government is doing. It’s the responsibility of the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children.”
When asked whether he would provide a piece of land for the expansion of the school, he said: “On the invitation of the headmistress, I would attend the parent-teacher association meeting on Saturday and would try to convince the locals to donate land for the school. Definitely, I would be playing a leading role,” he said and added that there was a dire need for a higher school.
Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2015