PESHAWAR: There are a total of 5,889 schools in tribal districts in which more than 500,000 students are enrolled. Independent Monitoring Unit the (IMU) released its report last month after completing survey of schools in merged districts. The report said 55 percent schools lack electricity, 51 percent schools lack drinking water facility, 30 percent schools lack washrooms and 18 percent schools lack washrooms. The report said that 1,276 schools are closed temporarily and 167 permanently in tribal districts.
The poor condition of schools and standard of education in tribal districts were already under criticism and now the exact state of affairs has emerged in the government’s survey. This survey has put the concerned officials in an uneasy position and parents of students and education experts have also raised their concerns.
Siraj Afridi, activist of a social organization in Bara, Khyber, said lack of facilities in schools will directly impact the students’ thinking and it will result in low education standard.
“Two factors are affecting the standard of education. The first issue is about absenteeism of teachers. This issue is prevailing in tribal districts since long. The second problem is lack of facilities in schools. Many schools lack boundary walls and electricity. The government should pay attention to both these problems. Education quality suffers due to absenteeism of teachers and lack of facilities,” he said.
IMU found during its survey of schools in tribal districts that 18 percent teachers and 38 percent students remain absent.
Zohra Bibi, hailing from North Waziristan, said while talking to TNN that absenteeism of teachers and students is one of main problems in tribal districts. She hoped that extension of IMU to tribal districts will resolve this problem.
“The scope of IMU should have been extended to tribal districts much earlier. It is good that IMU has been extended to tribal areas now which will resolve many problems, particularly the problem of absenteeism by teachers and students. Schools will close if problems remain unresolved,” Zohra said.
Tribal elder Bilal Din Orakzai said the actual situation is even worse than what is shown in the IMU survey. He said there are no schools in far-off areas due to which many children grow up without education.
“Other tribal districts also have problems, but Orakzai, particularly the Upper Orakzai schools, don’t have basic facilities. Many schools have no buildings. What other facility can be provided in a school if it even didn’t have a building? I belong to Mamozai tribe and 42 villages of the area have no school for girls or boys,” Bilal told TNN.
Hameed Hussain, a retired teacher, said while talking to TNN that only the poor people suffer due to bad condition of schools, as the rich send their children to private schools. He also criticized the local people for not considering government schools as their own and not bothering about the education standard.
“I have served in a government school for eight years and I know very well that the government teachers are well-trained. However, people now have a tendency to send their children to private schools. Poor people cannot pay much attention to education of their children. Talented students exist both in government and private schools,” he said.
Wahid from Orakzai said the situation of Lower Orakzai is comparatively better because private schools exist in the area, but the standard of government schools in not up to mark.
“Central Orakzai schools are also not bad, but the situation is precarious in Upper Orakzai where many schools were destroyed and children attend classes in tents and schoolteachers often remain absent,” he said.
Asad from Mir Ali said there are ‘A to Z’ problems in schools which means there are no buildings, electricity, furniture, drinking water, books and washroom facilities in most of the schools. “Facilities in schools in urban areas are better, but rural and far off areas have no facilities,” he said.
A woman from Lower Kurram said teachers are available at middle schools although the standard of education is not satisfactory. However, she said there are no teachers in her area at high school level.
Hafeezullah said he is performing teaching duties since 1997 and with his experience he can tell that the IMU report appears to be authentic. He said teachers should perform their duties to raise the standard of education.
Sakina, a tribal woman, said there are no washrooms, electricity, clean water or sanitation in schools in her areas and teachers have been appointed on the basis of nepotism who are not performing their duties properly and children are always reluctant to go to school. She said inquiry must be held into the whole issue and education standard in tribal areas must be improved.
Malik Mussarat Shah from Alamgoodar said the situation may not be ideal in our area, but government schools are playing a crucial role in promotion of education.
“Most of people in the area are poor and they send their children to government schools which are playing effective role in improving literacy rate,” he said.