Govt to rebuild schools destroyed by quake years ago

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Waking up from its nine years long slumber, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to rebuild its 760 schools destroyed by the 2005 earthquake in Hazara division. The relevant officials told Dawn on Wednesday that the schools’ reconstruction would cost Rs3.7 billion and would take three to four years to complete.

They said the government had allocated Rs300 million for the purpose in the forthcoming budget.

The officials insisted contractors had unnecessarily dismantled the buildings of the schools in question soon after the earthquake though many of them were partially damaged and could be used.

According to them, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Awami National Party governments had failed to rebuild such schools during their respective tenures in the province and pushed the federal government for funding the reconstruction exercise.

The officials said both the governments had thought it was the federal government’s responsibility to repair or rebuild schools hit by the earthquake as it had already launched reconstruction of infrastructure with the support of donors.

Soon after the earthquake, the federal government established the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority, which made a strategy for the reconstruction of the schools.

Prior to the survey of the damaged schools in the earthquake-hit areas, many buildings were in usable condition. However, contractors later demolished them on their own.

Such schools total 760 schools in Hazara division, including 322 in Mansehra, 153 in Battagram, 62 in Abbottabad and 75 in Shangla. The officials said thousands of students of schools destroyed in the earthquake had been getting education in rented buildings or tents.

However, an educationist declares the schools established in tents and rented buildings unfit for education saying they don’t fulfil the physical requirements of an educational institution.

“Students cannot focus on studies while sitting inside a tent or in the open,” he said.

The educationist said such schoolchildren were subjected to inclement weather conditions, which was injurious to their health.

He said schoolgirls and their teachers felt insecure in buildings without boundary walls or roof.

The educationist said first, the rent of buildings in Hazara division was very high and second, in many mountainous areas of the earthquake-hit areas, no building was available for rent.

MPAs from Hazara have raised voice against the dismantling of schools damaged in the 2005 earthquake many times on the floor of the house.

Source: Dawn