There was finally some good news for education in the region when girls schools in Hassan Khel and Jina Kor, Frontier Region (FR) Peshawar reopened last week.
The schools had been closed down in fear of retaliation from militants and were reopened following the deployment of a large contingent of security personnel in different parts of the region.
Local elders told The Express Tribune that all government and private girls schools had been shut because locals feared they may be bombed or attacked after the December 29, 2012 incident, in which 21 levies were brutally killed.
Levies and khasadar forces evacuated following the attack and the entire area was open to militants whose fear and threats resulted in the closure of all girls schools, they said.
Army personnel in the region have established bunkers on hilltops along with several security centres and check posts on the main road,” said a tribal elder, adding that there was no longer a threat as militants had retreated from the area after the army arrived.
The largest private school in Hassan Khel was Imat-e-Wahid, which had 350 students, the elders said, adding that the owner closed down the school and fled to Peshawar so parents were now sending their girls to another private school. “This school is now permanently closed, but elders have convinced other private schools to reopen and adjust students of Imat-e-Wahid,” said a local elder.
“There are at least four government-run schools for girls in the area and a similar number of private schools,” he said. Boys schools, which had been partially open for the last two months, have also resumed all classes.
Security forces have established a base camp in Shamshato and other bases have been set up in Hassan Khel and Jina Kor. FR Peshawar is a region which, along with FR Kohat, Darra Adam Khel, was at the forefront of women’s education up until a few years ago – before all girls schools were destroyed by militants in Darra Adam Khel.
“Our female literacy rate is around 60 to 80 percent because our elders try to take the lead in educating both girls and boys. All our female teachers and staff are local, which is uncommon in Fata,” said a local malik. With the exception of one, all private schools have been reopened and normalcy is slowly but surely returning, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.