Residents of North Waziristan seek rehabilitation of damaged school

CJ Sakinullah

MIRANSHAH: As per the estimates of FATA secretariat education department, around 800 schools destroyed in the war on terror are yet to be rebuilt by the government in Pakistan tribal districts bordering Afghanistan. The presence of damaged schools in such a great numbers have prevented many children from attending classes and thus forced to stay at home or waste their time in unhealthy activities.

Government Primary School Nauroz Kot is one such school which has been damaged in military offensive against militants in Mir Ali sub division of North Waziristan. Built in 2002, the school building is in dilapidated condition where chairs and mats are not available for children of returning populations and they have no other options but to sit on bare floor made of concrete even in winter seasons.

A teacher of the school Haseenullah said that during operation Zarb-e-Azb which was launched in 2014 against various militant groups in North Waziristan, the school building was badly damaged in fighting between Taliban and Pakistan. “The school building is cracked and likely to collapse anytime which may put the lives of students at danger”, he said and added that the broken building and walls have worried many parents in the area who have stopped sending their children to the school.

According to FATA secretariat statistics, a total of 1300 hundred schools were damaged in fighting and conflict in tribal areas since 2004, out of which 500 hundred school have been rehabilitated.  The conflict had also displaced around 2 million people from the tribal region and now more than 98 percent of them have been repatriated to their hometowns.

Locals in Mir Ali said that government had promised with them that all the damaged schools would be rehabilitated before their return to the town but it has failed to honor its promise.

Government officials say that half of the children in erstwhile FATA are out of schools for various reasons. However experts says that the main reason of children dropout from schools in tribal areas is presence of hundreds of damaged schools.

The story of a nearby government High School Haider Ali in Mir Ali area of North Waziristan is not different. The lives of 700 students enrolled in the school are in danger because of its building which was damaged in war on terrorism in the district.

Locals in Nauroz Kot Haider Ali villages have demanded of the government to take immediate steps for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the two schools for the sake their children’s bright future.