Govt primary school being run under open sky

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Over 300 students of a government primary school, located in the heart of Peshawar, have been getting education since long under open sky near a huge building of a college of a private educational institutions’ chain, owned by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.


The Government Primary School (GPS) No 3, Hayatabad, with a code number 32131, was approved in 1988 by the Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department. For the last 26 years, the school has been functioning without its own building, according to sources.


The students are made to sit on the dirt ground close to a garbage dump, but the provincial government functionaries have turned a blind to their plight.


Hayatabad, the posh locality of Peshawar and famous for sprawling bungalows of the influential and ruling class, has no shelter for the students of GPS No 3 because the parents of the enrolled students are neither rich nor influential, but they belong to the working class. In the absence of building the students have continued their education in pathetic conditions at the open space behind Nawab Market in Phase-6.


The school having 300 students is located in the heart of Peshawar

After its approval in 1988 and appointment of teachers, the GPS No 3 was first established in a portion of GPS No 1. With the passage of time when the number of enrolled students increased the school was shifted to GPS No 2’s building and for a few years to GPS No 4 Hayatabad, the sources said.


With further increase in enrolment, all the government primary schools in the vicinity refused to accommodate the GPS No 3. The teachers and the circle assistant district education officer at that time also tried to establish the school in a mosque, but the local prayer leader didn’t allow it, saying the children would make noise in the mosque, the sources recalled.


Finally, the school with no building of its own was shifted to the second floor of the house of a teacher in Phase-6 in 2009, they said. The school remained functional in the house of the teacher for four years, but brothers of that teacher threw out the school equipment because the education department didn’t pay a single penny in rent to the owners of the house, the sources said.


Finally, in 2013, officials in the district education office, Peshawar, decided to run the GPS No 3 in the corner of an empty plot measuring eight kanals. According to the master plan of Hayatabad, the plot is reserved for two primary schools, one each for boys and girls, but the government has failed to establish both schools. The precious land worth millions of rupees has been lying useless for the last many years.


During a visit to the site this scribe saw the children sitting on the dirt ground without any mat and with books in their hands. There was no blackboard or water facility. Only a few broken chairs for teachers were visible.


Ironically, the same school is located at a distance of around one kilometre from the personal residence of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who has been claiming to have declared education emergency in the whole Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Also, the school touches the boundary wall of the huge building of the Quaid-i-Azam Public School and College owned by KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.

During rain, the school remains closed because there is no roof or other shelter to protect the children from rain. Its closure depends on the duration of the rain and drying of the ground.


The high-ups in the secretariat of E&SE Department, directorate and district education office are well aware of the condition of the GPS No 3, but remain insensitive to the problems of its little students, the sources said.


When contacted, District Education Officer, Peshawar, Sharif Gul said that construction of the building for GPS No 3, Hayatabad, was under consideration. “We will construct the building soon,” he claimed.


Asked why a building is not hired on rent for the school, the DEO said that the procedure of hiring a building was lengthy and complicated. “We need to make an advance payment of rent to owner of the house for hiring it, but the finance department doesn’t allow us to do so,” he said.


Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2014