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Govt faces dilemma over rebuilding schools in Fata

April 30, 2012


PESHAWAR, April 29: Lack of funds and serial destruction of schools have been hampering government’s plan to undertake the gigantic task of reconstruction of educational institutions blown up by militants in the under-developed Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

The data collected by Directorate of Education, Fata shows that 417 schools including 133 for girls have been blown up in Fata by the end of March last as militants are still targeting educational institutions in the region.

“The dilemma is that on the one hand the directorate lacks financial resources to reconstruct damaged buildings while on the other, militants are still bombing schools,” said an official.

He said that army had started reconstruction of 78 schools, both for boys and girls, in some areas of Fata. He added that army had received money from Saudi Development Fund for reconstruction of schools in tribal areas. The authorities are reconstructing 52 schools in Bajaur Agency where normalcy has been returned.

Saudi Arabia has provided $72 million from its development fund for reconstruction and rehabilitation activities in Malakand division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. The army and some non-governmental organisations are reconstructing schools in Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber and others areas.

But future of the remaining damaged schools hangs in the balance owing to scarcity of funds. Officials said that directorate and Fata Civil Secretariat did not have funds to reconstruct the damaged institutions. They said that a proposal was under consideration to include few schemes of the damaged schools in the next annual development programme for Fata.

“The competent authorities are looking towards foreign donors to get funds for the reconstruction of damaged schools,” said the official, adding that the directorate could include hardly five to 10 damaged schools in the next ADP.

Officials said that the directorate had made makeshift arrangements in areas where schools had been destroyed. They said that Unicef and other donor agencies had provided tents where classes were being organised for boys and girls.

Militants have been targeting schools and other educational institutions in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the last three years. Hundreds of schools have been damaged in both the regions.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its report for 2011 claimed that about 650 schools for boys and girls remained dysfunctional in Fata owing to militancy. Schools occupied by influential elders in the area have not been included in the list.

On the other hand, security forces have also turned schools in their camps. Cadet College Razmak in North Waziristan has been closed because of security reasons and troops have been straying in its building. Its students are being relocated to Peshawar.

A senior official said that in the areas that had been notified as combat zones educational activities had been abandoned and the directorate had no information about the condition of the schools there. “The government has started reconstruction activities in those areas, which have been de-notified as conflict zones,” he said.

The breakup shows that 96 schools in Bajaur, 89 in Mohmand, 59 in Khyber, 11 in Frontier Region (FR) of Peshawar, 34 in FR Kohat, 45 in Kurram, 35 in Orakzai, 34 in North Waziristan, six in South Waziristan, four in FR Tank and four in FR Lakki have been destroyed by militants.

The data about damaged schools in Mehsud area of South Waziristan Agency has not been obtained. Similarly, officials said schools had been closed in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency where security forces had started operation against Lashkar-i-Islam and other outfits in March.