Dilapidated building of Bara school endangers lives of over 250 students

13 May 2019

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Students study in the shabby building of government middle school in Bara. — Dawn
Students study in the shabby building of government middle school in Bara. — Dawn

LANDI KOTAL: Over 250 students of a government middle school in Nala Malakdin Khel area of Bara risk their lives as they have to either sit under the scorching sun or inside a damaged building to attend classes since the reopening of educational institutions in the tehsil in Sept 2015.

The eight-room school was in occupation of proscribed Lashkar-i-Islam till 2014 and served as one of their military base in Malakdin Khel area.

The building was, however, destroyed with explosives by the LI men prior to security forces’ advance into Nala.

The school headmaster, Mohammad Jamal, told Dawn during a visit to the school that they had to restart classes in the dilapidated building in Sept 2015 when the erstwhile Fata directorate of education ordered reopening of all the educational institutions in Bara.

He himself had to establish his office-cum-staff room in a room without roof with a plastic sheet providing them temporary cover from sun.

Mr Jamal said he along with his eight-member teaching staff, all locals, and around 270 students had cleared the rubble of the destroyed building to clear some space for their office and at least two classes.

Students were seen sitting inside the dilapidated building with cracks and bullet marks on the walls. Two junior classes and two sections of sixth grade were made to sit in the open for want of space.

The headmaster said it was only after their persistent demands that the education department recently provided them with only two tents.

“We have to relieve our students when it starts raining or when it gets very hot and becomes unbearable for students to sit in the open,” he explained while pointing out to limited space for all the 270 students of his school.

Students too revealed their ordeal while studying in a building which is posing constant danger to their lives.

“We do not have a proper building, no furniture, no electricity, no bathrooms and no water in our school, where they are always at the mercy of weather conditions,” a grade sixth student told this scribe.

The school’s teaching staff argued that no education department official had visited the school since its reopening.

They said Bara MNA Iqbal Afridi recently came to the school on their annual day function, but he too ‘talked about local issues’ rather than having mercy on the terrible condition of the school.

The school headmaster said the district education department selected and award best teacher every year, but so far no one had acknowledged their ‘selfless’ efforts for promoting education in such hostile conditions.

Abdul Haleem, a staff member, said despite these trying conditions they still received applications for fresh admissions in the school.

The school’s teaching staff and students appealed to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and his advisor on education to visit the school and personally inspect the condition of the damaged building which was a constant threat to their lives.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2019