PTI’s education emergency in KP yields no concrete results

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No visible improvement has been witnessed anywhere in the province and not a single project of significance could be launched for promotion of education since an ‘education emergency’ was clamped in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government.

Provincial Minister for Education Mohammad Atif Khan, in his recent presentation to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, presented a dismal picture of the situation and showed his inability to overcome it.

According to him, about 3,365 schools destroyed by the 2005 earthquake, floods and militancy needed reconstruction, 1,008 schools have no building at all and are referred to as shelterless schools while 30 percent of the total 28,500 schools have no boundary walls at all.

“We need 22,000 more schools in the province for the out-of-school children. We also need to construct 20,000 more rooms in the existing facilities to accommodate the increasing number of students. It would cost Rs1.3 million to construct one room and the provincial government doesn’t have funds,” he remarked.

He said some 159 schools were closed in different parts of the province mostly because teaching staff was not available. Some 46 percent of the existing schools lacked electricity, 48 percent had no lavatory and water was missing in 36 percent of schools, he added.

He said they needed Rs7 billion to provide furniture to the schools, but lacked the required resources.The only thing that the minister confidently termed as a good initiative of the provincial government was the monitoring units and introduction of biometric system. He said the system has been introduced in 100 offices and would be gradually extended to schools to check the attendance and performance of the teaching and non-teaching staffers. According to sources, even the monitoring system was a project of the previous government being implemented now.

Unable to arrange funds for the schools’ reconstruction and provision of other facilities, the minister declared to launch “Tameer-e-School Programme” for which donations would be collected from well-off people for schools’ construction and reconstruction.

He, however, forgot to speak about the funds worth billions that the provincial government has already received from various international donors for different projects in the education sector.

Disappointed with the sorry situation, one of the lawmakers in the house requested the minister to lift the “emergency” so that some development could take place in this most vital sector.

Education and health were the prime focus of the PTI-led government after taking over power in the province and the party wanted to keep both the portfolios. The party leadership claimed it had made plans for promotion of education and healthcare delivery system. But it badly failed to deliver in both the sectors. So poor was its performance in the health sector that the PTI preferred to surrender the important health portfolio to a minor coalition partner – Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan.

The situation of education, which the PTI had refused to give to Jamaat-e-Islami on the plea that it had done better planning for it, is no different.Additional Secretary Qaiser Alam was, however, optimistic about the situation. Reached by phone for comments, he said they had done the groundwork for reforms in education sector.

“We want to do 20 years of work in just five years. It will require time to bring education revolution in the province,” he said. “We have done mapping, prepared designs and collected proper data. The requirements are much more and we are making makeshift arrangements on stop-gap basis,” he said. However, he was unable to mention something concrete done so far even though there is an education emergency in the province.

Former education minister Sardar Hussain Babak was lost for words when asked about the so-called education emergency. “I wonder what they have done so far. Even the process of development could not be started,” he said.

He said that even the set policy for transfers, posting and recruitment was badly violated. No training for teachers could be arranged and vacant positions in schools could not be filled, he said. He ridiculed the additional secretary education’s statement that they had made mapping and reminded that this had been done by the previous government.

JUI-F’s Maulana Fazle Ali Haqqani, another former education minister, was also disappointed with the situation.Even basic work for promotion of education could not be done, he said, adding that the provincial government had been claiming to end class-based education system.

“How can they do so when their own leader Asad Qaiser was running a large system of private schools? The class-based system cannot be done away with by changing the medium of instruction but by ending the social stratification in the society,” he said. He said the government had failed to reconstruct even a single damaged school or build a new one.

He said when he was the minister in the Muttahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government effective steps were taken to enrol the out-of-school children.“For the purpose, we started providing free books and uniforms to the students. We exempted them from school fee and other expenses and about 800,000 of the total 1,500,000 out-of-school children were enrolled in schools,” he said.

Source: the News.