PESHAWAR: Government Girls Primary School in Dheri Bagh Banan union council has not yet opened. Situated near Saddar, the abandoned building is now being used by residents as a dumping ground for waste.
The main entrance is covered in filth and reeks of a pungent odour. The windows of the school are broken and four rooms of the building are in a dilapidated condition. There is no boundary wall and its playground is submerged in water.
On deaf ears
The plan to construct the school building was approved in 2011 by Syed Aqeel Shah, who was then an Awami National Party MPA. At least Rs30 million was released for its construction.
However, the residents told The Express Tribune the school was never made operational. “Girls in the area have been deprived of an education,” one of the locals said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Amjad Khan, a union council member, said he, along with elders from the area, have visited officials of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education department several times to draw their attention to the matter. However, their demands fell on deaf ears.
“There are only two schools in the area, one for boys and one for girls,” he said. “However, the girls school never opened.”
Amjad said the girls from Dheri Bagh Banan have to travel long distances to go to school. “Arif Yousaf, a PTI representative from the area, tried to make the school functional,” he said. “But the relevant authority said the school building had not been handed over to the education department yet.”
Cycle of neglect
Amjad pinned the blame on the previous government for slacking off in performing its duties and not officially handing over the project to the education department. “The previous government embezzled funds allocated to run this school,” he added
Roman Khan, a local, said the school building has become a garbage dump due to the government’s negligence. He pressed Minister for Education Muhammad Atif Khan to take matters into his own hands.
“The school is located in one of the key areas of the provincial capital; it should be revived,” he added
Action and reaction
When contacted, Ulfat Begum, a female district education officer in Peshawar, said they have discussed the condition of all closed schools in the district with the secretary of the K-P Elementary and Secondary Education. “He has promised to take notice of the situation,” he said.
Ulfat Begum, who was recently transferred to Peshawar, said she has directed all officers to collect data on all closed schools and investigate why they are still closed. “All schools that were closed due to a shortage of teachers have been reopened in the district as teachers were hired to run these schools,” she said. “The secretary has assured us that all schools will open with the help of the deputy commissioners.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2015.