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PESHAWAR: The dispute over ownership of 342 public sector schools between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Fata Secretariat has been resolved after many years as the former has agreed to run financial and administrative affairs of the educational institutions, according to sources.

They said that thousands of students enrolled in such schools had been suffering for the last few years as the schools were neither owned by the provincial government nor Fata Secretariat in real sense.

They said that besides carrying out developmental activities after taking over the schools, the provincial government would also provide Rs1billion annually to pay salaries to 2612 teachers and other staffers of those educational institutions.

“The disputed schools are located in the settled areas adjacent to the frontier regions (FRs). These were constructed by Fata Secretariat decades ago,” sources in elementary and secondary education department told Dawn.

Teachers and other staff in 342 schools to become employees of provincial govt

They said that at the time of construction of those schools, people at the helm of affairs in Fata Secretariat believed that the area was part of frontier regions. However, after demarcation with the provincial government, it was found that the area was part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they added.

Of 342 schools, to be taken over by provincial government from July1, sources said, 225 were located in FR Bannu, 31 in FR Lakki Marwat, 22 in FR Tank, seven in Hangu district adjacent to Orakzai Agency and 52 were located in Shabqadar area near Mohmand Agency.

“Some three years back we received instructions from the Governor’s House to stop developmental works in the disputed schools,” a senior official in Fata Secretariat told Dawn.

He said that since then no efforts were made to provide the missing facilities including drinking water, electrification, boundary wall and lavatories to the schools. He said that repair of the buildings of those schools was also stopped since then.

The official said that the schools would be improved academically and structurally under the provincial government as it had more funds and good monitoring system as compared to Fata Secretariat.

“As no one was taking interest in these schools, the Fata Secretariat approached Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary to take over administrative and financial responsibilities to avoid further damage to the institutions,” he added.

A senior officer in provincial education department said before resolution of the issue, they couldn’t provide fund to those schools despite knowing their dilapidated conditions.

The monitoring system for the government schools in Fata was very week and it also couldn’t provide enough funds for repair of buildings and provision of missing facilities, he added.

“Now we will set up the parent-teacher councils in such schools as education department has been providing Rs3 million to each school for providing missing facilities and repair of buildings. The funds are being utilised through PTCs,” said the official.

He said that teachers and other staff serving in those schools would also become employees of the provincial government. “The education department has proper service structure for the headmasters, teachers and other employees,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2016