Due to shortage of classrooms, boys sit in the open at Government Boys High School Shahiya. — Dawn
Due to shortage of classrooms, boys sit in the open at Government Boys High School Shahiya. — Dawn

TAXILA: Built 30 years ago to cater to children in the area, the Government Boys High School Shahiya, in the Hassanabdal tehsil, is a picture of neglect.

The single-storey school building is in disrepair, with just four classrooms for a student body of 627.

Six classes are held out in the open, with no protection for the children from hot or cold weather, and the school does not have any electricity.

Almost half of the students do not have classrooms, and around a hundred do not have seating arrangements, and have to sit on the floor even in the cold.

Half of the student body cannot avail lighting or fans, while the state of lighting in the four classrooms is inadequate as well.

School has four classrooms for 627 students, many complain of being subjected to corporal punishment

The school has 15 teachers and five other staffers, but because of the lack of classrooms they are not utilised properly.

A schoolteacher said that when it rains, students from different grades are forced to study in the same room, which is “tantamount to wasting their time”.

“Due to the lack of space and rooms in the school building, we have accommodated more than 100 students in a single room.

“The condition in the winter becomes unbearable, as sitting on the floor adds to the students’ discomfort,” he said.

Another teacher said the school administration has sent countless requests and reminders to the education department asking them to take notice of the situation and provide basic facilities, but never received a response.

Many students have even complained of being subjected to corporal punishment by teachers. Corporal punishment was banned by the National Assembly in 2013 and is punishable with a year in prison, a fine of Rs50,000 or both.

During a visit to this school earlier this month, Hassanabdal Assistant Commissioner Adnan Anjum Raja caught a teacher subjecting second graders to corporal punishment.

When contacted, he confirmed that he had caught the teacher red-handed.

He said the education authorities and deputy commissioner were informed for action against the teacher.

To another question, he said: “The overall environment was not fit for education in the school.”

He said he recommended constructing temporary sheds for students using the non-salary budget until the department has a budget to build additional classrooms.

Assistant District Officer (Elementary Education) Raja Amjad said action will be taken against the teacher in question under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act.

He said the school was established as a primary school and upgraded to the secondary level after it came under the district council’s administrative control, ignoring the capacity of the building and the sanctioned new expenditure.

He said the school building was meant for primary classes, and there is no land nearby on which additional classrooms can be built.

He added that the local population has donated land for the construction of a building for secondary classes, and the deputy commissioner and district monitoring officer have visited the school and sent a recommendation to the provincial education authorities to issue funds to build classrooms on this land.

Work on a new building will be initiated as soon as funds are released, Mr Amjad said.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019