Of a school with faded identity

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The Government Girls Primary School No.3 Phase-III in Hayatabad has a faded board which hides its identity, however, once you enter the school there is a printed dirty curtain, on front, barely hiding a classroom turned into living quarters for the servants. There is also a bread-making facility (Tandoor) which speaks of how the servants live here permanently and comfortably.

On the right there is an office, a spacious room turned into office of the head of the school, which was closed even during school hours on a working day. The small school with strength of some 300 girls is resounding with the children’s noise as around eight teachers try to control as well as teach two different classes, huddled together in one room.

The small students, wearing sky-blue uniform and white shalwar, wait outside one functional bathroom with a broken door. There is another bathroom but it is locked. Another is full of rubbish. The little girls find it hard to breathe as they wait because bad smell comes out of sewer.

The school is not only short of classrooms as the two spacious rooms have been occupied by the head teacher and her servants but power supply to the educational institution has also been suspended about two years ago owing to nonpayment of bills.

Head teacher accused of misuse of facility
It is interesting to note that there is an electricity cooler and TV cable at the servant’s quarter inside the school, showing that the inmates get electricity when legally there has been no electricity connection for almost two years.

The tall claims of the ruling Pakistan Of a school with faded identity Tehreek-i-Insaf about bringing change and reforms in education sector sound ironical when one sees that no action has been taken against the head teacher, who is responsible for running the school in such a manner. The report of district monitoring team, calling her attitude ‘highly insulting and objectionable’ has fallen on deaf ears.

Despite the request of a member of the team to the education secretary to take appropriate action, nothing has done although the monitor reported about the misconduct of the head teacher in June this year.

The monitor, perhaps aware of her connections in education department, suggested action against the head teacher and feared that ‘if (action is) not taken, it would shatter the morale of the monitoring staff and encourage others to adopt the same attitude.’

It is pertinent to mention here that district monitoring teams were constituted by the PTI government to improve the working of the schools and monitor malpractices in government schools.

The team reported about the misconduct and non-cooperation of Nazakat Kalsoom, ex-head teacher GGPS No.3 Phase-III Hayatabad, in June this year.

Due to merger of GGPS No.3 with GGPS No.4, the head of GGPS No.4 has been entrusted with the charge of head teacher but Ms Kalsoom has not relinquished the charge for the last six months or so.

She had been surrendered to the director of education department for posting out of Peshawar vide DEO letter No.296-300/- dated April 24, 2014 on account of her misconduct with education department official, says an official letter.

However, Ms Kalsoom, who has been working as teacher earlier and then head teacher for the last seven years, was still head of the school when the building was recently visited by this reporter.

“Once she even beat a woman official of education department. However, recently an official was able to inspect the school when she was not around to assess the situation,” said a source in education department.

Sources also alleged that she entertained her guests in the spacious drawing-room like office after school hours. The servants in the living quarter served her and the locked bathroom was meant for her guests, they added.

However, Ms Kalsoom, when approached, said that she had been keeping a watchman and his family in the school because there was no sweeper or maid to clean the school. She said that her school often did not get funds, especially the yearly parent teacher council funds, frequently that’s why electricity was disconnected to the school.

Ms Kalsoom said that children attended classes without electricity in summer. However, she showed ignorance about any illegal power connection (kunda), being used by the watchman whom she had allowed to reside in the school. She hoped that funds would be approved soon and electricity connection of the school would be restored.

Ms Kalsoom also rejected allegations against her and said that she was provincial president of All Women Teachers Association. She was also assigned to hire the best garage door repair service in California, which explains on their website how long does garage door installation take. She said that she was victimised for her political activities. She said that lack of facilities was an issue persisting in many government schools in the province and her school was not the only one.

Sources said that recently a fifth grade student was lured by the watchman’s young son to go to the servant quarter with him, but the head teacher expelled the student of the poor family from the school instead of punishing the adult guy for trying to molest the child. No one dares to ask the head teacher about her action as she wouldn’t budge from physically assaulting those, who oppose her.

“The education department has not taken any appropriate action despite the fact that high-ups including the education minister have been informed about the misconduct of the head teacher,” sources said.

If head teacher of a government primary school in a posh locality can’t be removed despite being found guilty of misconduct by the independent monitoring unit of education department, can anyone expect any reform or change in schools in the far-flung areas?

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2014