PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to establish education city in militancy-stricken South Waziristan tribal district.

It will be the first-ever such initiative of its kind in the province. The “South Waziristan Education City” will comprise schools, colleges and sub-campuses of different universities established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country.

The education city will be established in Barwand, situated in the Mehsud-dominated area of the tribal district. South Waziristan remained a hub of terrorism during the previous two decades. Education institutions in the Mehsud area were badly affected where militant groups had either destroyed schools or converted them into their hideouts.

The project director of the education city, Dr Najeebullah, told Dawn that the first phase of the education city would take three years to complete at a cost of Rs2.5 billion. He said that education city would be set up on 7,000-kanal piece of land. He added that government would not spend a single penny on purchasing such a vast tract of land as the locals had given it free of cost for the purpose.

First phase of project to be completed in three years at cost of Rs2.5 billion

Dr Najeebullah, a PhD from Cambridge University UK in material sciences, said that Provincial Development Working Party already approved the allocated fund for the project.

He has successfully executed a multi-billion project of setting up US Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy at University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar. He has successfully launched establishment of University of Engineering and Applied Sciences Swat as project director.

Dr Najeebullah said that government would construct roads, boundary walls, sewerage system and carry out electrification while rest of the project would be executed through public-private partnership.

He said that along with educational facilities, the education city would also provide state-of-the-art sports facilities to people by establishing complexes, cricket stadium and football ground etc. He added that a solar park of one megawatt would also be established during the first phase of the project.

Asked why Waziristan was selected for the education city, the project director said that the major reason of selecting the tribal district for the purpose was to engage youth and remove sense of deprivation among them.

The second reason, he said, was to exploit the available natural resources in the form of mines and minerals and bring a paradigm shift in agriculture in the area through cutting edge research and innovation.

Similarly, Dr Najeebullah said, the education city would help to counter the menace of terrorism, violence and would provide business opportunities to people at their doorsteps through entrepreneurial ventures and technology transfer.

He said that they would focus on maintaining gender balance and empowerment of women of the terrorism-hit areas by providing quality education and business opportunities to them.

Dr Najeebullah said there will be no new university in the education city rather sub-campuses of reputed institutions would be established there. He said that sub-campuses of reputed universities would not comprise on quality education instead of trial experimentations.

“We already have 33 public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and setting up new university is quite expensive. It needs huge human resources. So establishing sub-campuses is a good option,” he said.

Dr Najeebullah said that Khyber Medical University had already shown interest to develop sub-campus in the education city. “Under the plan, a teaching hospital is envisaged to provide the best health facilities to the locals,” he added.

He said that the education city would not be specifically for the people of Waziristan, rather students from entire country would be eligible to get education there. Skill development and short-term diplomas will be the major component of the education city to provide hands on experience and skills to youth.

He said that project management unit would soon be set up for which many posts were advertised in the newspapers. The PMU will also be responsible for making business plans and media/marketing plans for attracting private investors and reputed educational institutions to establish their campuses in the education city.

“The PMU will also be tasked to explore fund raising from international donor agencies and establish linkages with international educational institutions,” said Dr Najeebullah.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2022

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