Balochistan, though the largest province area – wise and the richest in resources, is the poorest and the most backward province in all aspects, particularly in the educational field and is still being ignored.
At least 66% children, aged five to sixteen, in Balochistan, do not go to school. But one of the biggest concerns is also providing safe education in province. Government schools in Balochistan are facing not only security threats but also demolished buildings, these poor structures are posing huge threats to the lives of children.
According to the government sources more than seven thousand schools across the province are shelter less. These are all not just single room schools but also have one teacher at the student’s disposal. Students of these government schools are at the mercy of weather changes and climate hazards. Around 6700 schools need rehabilitation, 2500 buildings of schools are considered dangerous.
Surkhiyan visited a few government schools in Quetta and found this:
Primary government school in Akhtar Abad, Quetta city is derived from all basic necessities. Students coming from farflung areas have to study on cold bear floor of this without boundary school. Primary government schools are functioning despite infrastructural limitations a number of them portray bleak picture when visited. Only two teachers are teaching in this school without receiving any financial assistance of government from last few years. Threatening messages are written on the broken walls by the inhabitants of this area in order to close the schools.
“This school is running without boundary walls, door, desk and all other basic necessities. I have complained about the lack of all such facilities but nothing has happen as government is not taking any initiative,” Teacher of government primary school Akhtar Abad said, inhabitants of this area have been threatening us with these wall chalking and demanding to close these schools, therefore I have to carry a gun with me every day I come here, He added.
“We don’t have facilities as we have to sit on clod floor with broken windows, but the bigger problem is security as we don’t have any gatekeeper”, one of the students told Surkhiyan.
Government is paying no attention towards the education in province, Local resident Saeed Ullah says, “You can see rooms without doors and windows, no furniture for the students. In such condition how would teachers teach the students? Inside the rooms threats are written on the walls, where it’s clearly written, “whoever went to school is the greatest sinner,” Is this really what we are teaching our children,” Saeed Ullah adds.
The building of government girl’s primary school Fatah Bagh in Quetta is a symbol of fear for the students. A rented building that is tumbling, More than 300 students are studying in this school. These girls are studying under destroyed roofs, temporary class rooms (having no electricity, Gas), or under open sky in winter or summer, the school was built in 1988, and is being run on rent, the building has always been in miserable condition from the past and now with rainfall or snowfall it poses serious threats to the students as the roof of the class room could collapse any day. In recent past roof of a class fell down with walls, which damaged the other classrooms of the school as well. And these rooms of schools now can cause damage at any time, which causes huge fear to the students and the teacher.
“In case of rainfall or warm weather we are forced to send students off to home. Often drug addicts are found inside the building of school in morning that scares girls as they arrive in school. Walls of the backyard collapsed which gives easy access to these drug addicts, We have requested the higher authorities several times to take measures, and high officials visited the schools as well but there has been no initiative taken so far for the betterment of this school, Principal of girls primary school Fatah Bagh Aamina Parveen told Surkhiyan due to the current crises we had to reject more than hundred students who wished to get enrolled for the studies.
“The payment of rent of the school’s building is often delayed, though the monthly rent is just 6 thousand rupees, I receive my payment after two or more years and even then I have to pay half of the mount to the staff of AIG office as bribe. With remaining amount it’s not possible for me to reconstruct the building”, Owner of the building says while speaking to the author. For the future of these students I am willing to sell this building on a cheap rate but only if the government takes interest in the favor of these students, he added.
It’s not only the damaged buildings which is causing insecurities among students, A rare example of government’s lack of interest in schools is government girls middle school situated in Pashtoonabad of Quetta. This girl’s middle school poses huge danger to more than 200 girls studying in the school. It’s not the building but a electricity Transformer which is installed within school. Wires of the transformers are lying on floor. Many incidents for fire eruption have been reported in transformer of this school that caused fear among the students, teachers and parents.
“Several requests made to the Department of WASA and WAPDA to remove this transformer to and placing it to another area, even with the approval of transfer by the concern authority the transformer hasn’t been taken to another place. Wires of the transformer laying on floor everywhere, sometimes we find students sitting on them, as it is very difficult for the avoid these wires all the time. In case of rain electricity current transfers into the earth and it forces us to close school”, Principal of girls middle school Pashtonabad Mrs Safina told Surkhiyan. Parents are also reluctant to send their daughters to the schools. It is a matter of concern and government needs to take measures so that incidents could be avoided, she added.
On the other hand, Education officers are convinced that government is taking all the possible measure to provide quality education with safe environment. Government is fully aware of the condition of primary schools, and has allocated large volume of funds for the betterment of schools structures, and compare to Past current government has improved the condition of schools significantly,
Secretary Education Balochistan Abdul Fatah Bhangar says, “Providing safe education is a challenge for the government, as religious and extremist mind set does not allow children to go to school and receive modern education.”
Due to special initiatives of the govt. more than 100 building of primary schools were rehabilitated which were completely demolished. He added
In spite of the fact that teachers and students in government primary schools are not receiving any assistance from the government side, but they are motivated and determine to get their goal of education.