Pursuit of education: As security worsens, Bara students transfer to Peshawar

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Determined students from Khyber Agency attempt daily commute to Peshawar despite militancy and military operations in the agency. Others relocate there, living in temporary shelter, bearing tumultuous weather – all in the name of education.

Fata Secretariat Director Planning and Development Shahenshah told The Express Tribune, 1,500 out of 2,000 displaced female students have been transferred from the Government Girls High School Kanlanga, Bara to Al Khalil Model School in Sarband outside Peshawar.

“Student attendance cannot remain consistent as many of them travel from Bara to institutions in Peshawar – it is hard to be regular when there are curfews imposed due to military operations in their hometown.” Shahinshah said some displaced students who had settled in the provincial capital were able to continue their studies, but only just.

“Tribal students are committed to education,” said Samia Zeb, the principal of the Government Higher Secondary School Kanlanga, Khyber Agency. A fact which is evident from the school’s 2012 matriculation results in which a student, Fatima, obtained 813 out of 1,050 and stood first in Khyber Agency. In order to continue with her education, she had to commute daily to Peshawar where the school had been temporarily relocated.

“The girl didn’t continue her education because of the decline in security in the region. She was denied permission to travelling regularly to Peshawar from Bara,” shared the principal.

Zeb explained displaced students (both men and women) from Khyber Agency were transferred to schools in Peshawar on May 3, 2010 with the help of Fata Secretariat. The secretariat, with the help of donor agencies, is responsible for students who have had to relocate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to settled parts of the province (be it camps or housing).

They were provided rented accommodations which turned out to be insufficient for the number of students.

Later, she added, four camps were erected on the roof of the building but the temporary arrangement did not help as torrential rains kept lashing the province.

Kohi Sher Haider Degree College, Bara Principal Sharif Gul said, “500 boys have been shifted to Afridi Model School College, Pishtakhara where they take classes in a second shift.”

The education of students in Khyber Agency has been direly affected added Gul.

Replacement schools lacked facilities such as laboratories, libraries and sufficient classrooms. “They had everything in the schools in the agency, but they have been deprived of those resources because of the emergency-like situation on ground in the wake of grim law and order,” bemoaned the principal.

Students across Bara tehsil face immense problems in attending classes regularly but, Gul added, they made alternative arrangements to complete their course curriculum by taking extra tuitions in nearby locales.

“They struggle, determined to maintain good results.” In 2012, the intermediate result for the Kohi Sher college was 76% and graduate result was 85%, according to Sharif Gul.

There are three degree colleges for boys in Khyber Agency in Landikotal, Jamrud and Bara.

President of the Jalozai Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Student Union Sajid Afridi is an intermediate part-I student at Kohi Sher Haider College Bara – the students of which are now being taught in Pishtakhara.

Afridi said they were given study leave on January 1 – well in advance of the schedule. Afridi said some of the courses remained incomplete,creating problems for all of them.

Ismail, Khadi Jan and Farhad Afridi, also members of the union and students of the same college, said they had lodged a request with the principal to complete their subject curriculum so they could prepare for exams set for April 24.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2013.