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Reopened schools Official data deny claim of minister

August 17, 2012

PESHAWAR, Aug 17: Hundreds of head teachers of government primary schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been keeping the elementary and secondary education department in dark concerning schools that were closed down due to various reasons across the province, it is learnt.

Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Sardar Hussain Babak has claimed on several occasions recently that during his tenure around 1,600 closed schools have been reopened.

The figure provided by the minister is, however, much higher than the official data of the education department compiled by the Education Management Information System (EMIS), according to data available with Dawn.

The number of closed schools in the province in 2008-09 was 477, including 358 girls schools, according to a 2009 report of the EMIS. The 2009-10 report put the number of such schools at 512. Similarly, the number of closed schools stood at 407 in 2010-11, which further reduced to 350 according to a recent report of the education department.

This leads one to ask how 1,600 closed schools were reopened in last four years when the official data puts the maximum number of such schools at 512.

When Mr Babak was asked how it was possible to reopen 1,600 schools when the education department has put the maximum number of closed schools at 512, he said that he has directed the officials of education department to do serious efforts to collect accurate data.

“I have directed the EMIS to collect data concerning schools after thorough scrutiny to avoid any mistake in future,” the minister told Dawn. He said that the schools were earlier closed due to social disputes, illegal occupation of school buildings, disputes over employment of class-IV workers and shortage of teachers in the respective districts. The minister said that the Parents Teachers Councils and local elders were involved to reopen such a large number of closed schools.

Usually the education department sends a pro forma through executive district officers, education, to all primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools to provide to the EMIS different information concerning closed schools and facilities and staff in schools, sources in the education department said.

They said that the teachers of schools closed due to some reasons were getting salaries at homes without attending schools.

Such teachers are making all-out efforts to hide facts from the education officers on district level. When such teachers receive the pro forma sent by the education department for annual data collection, they didn’t mention that their schools were closed, the sources said.

“If such teachers inform the education department about their closed schools then the department will make efforts for their reopening besides transferring them to another school, which they didn’t want,” they maintained. The sources also said that some EDOs might be involved in protecting teachers of such closed schools as they also received bribes from such teachers for forwarding wrong information provided by them.