26,500 schools in KPK lack basic facilities

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Education Emergency could not bring any significant improvement as 26,500 schools across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities of electricity, drinking water, boundary walls and lavatories.

According to official data of provincial education department, currently around 10,000 government schools do not have electricity, 7,500 are without drinking water, 5,000 lack boundary walls and 4,000 have no washroom.

The icing on the cake, some 159 schools have been closed in the province mostly for non-availability of teaching staff, revealed KPK Minister for Education Atif Khan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education in a meeting held on October 8 also expressed grave concern over non-operational educational institutions in the province and the posts of teachers lying vacant since long.

The committee meeting chaired by MPA Muhammad Arif noted that the closure of schools and lethargy in appointing new teachers on part of the government are tantamount to playing with the future of the children.

Apart from closure of 159 schools, the KPK government has virtually abandoned the much-trumpeted ‘Tameer School Programme’ as the PTI leadership could not launch an effective campaign in and outside the country for raising money to provide basic facilities to thousands of government schools.

An official of the education department said the project was launched by the KPK government to encourage affluent individuals to fund missing facilities in thousands of schools. But unfortunately the PTI leadership focused more on other issues instead of education, he added.

He said that the KPK government was relying almost exclusively on donors for funding schools’ reconstruction and rehabilitation, provision of furniture, and girls’ stipends programmes. It had allocated a little more than Rs 4 billion for schools’ reconstruction and rehabilitation.

When questioned about the uniform school syllabus in KPK, he disclosed that textbooks of around 15 publishers are being taught in private schools contrary to the government’s repeated claims of bringing uniformity in the education system.

He said though the government has changed the medium of instruction from Urdu to English in the government schools from grade-1 in the ongoing academic year but the teaching material in the textbooks is not uniform, he noted.

A professor of Education at Peshawar University defining the uniform education system said, “The education would only be uniformed when the textbooks, teaching methodologies and facilities at the private and government schools are the same.”

The official of education department said that PTI chief Imran Khan’s dream of introducing a uniform curriculum for all schools remains a distant reality. Until and unless the qualified teachers are not inducted the syllabus of private schools could not be taught in government institutes.

JUI-F provincial secretary information Abdul Jalil Jan talking on the situation said that no visible improvement has been witnessed in any sector especially in education in the province, adding that not a single project of significance could be launched by the PTI government for promotion of education since the Education Emergency was launched.

He said that PTI government has been claiming since long to improve its education sector by spending huge portion of budget but in reality the KPK government reduced its allocation in education sector to 27.47 per cent in 2014-15 from 28.03 per cent in 2013-14.

According to a recent report of PILDAT, despite tall claims of PTI’s Chairman about good governance, the party has badly failed to deliver in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The KP government has not been able to register the same level of positive governance attained by the Punjab government and most of the governance indicators remained negative in the province, the report said.

It said KP’s provincial government scored the highest negative NPRs on: disaster preparedness and management -45per cent, anti-corruption -43per cent, education -42per cent, quality and independence of civil service -42per cent, merit-based recruitment and promotions -41per cent, environmental sustainability -40per cent, healthcare -38per cent, tax collection -38per cent, energy production and management(-37per cent, investment friendliness -37per cent, and transparent and efficient public procurement -35per cent.

Similarly, on 3 out of the 27 indicators, the KPK government scored barely negative ratings: law and order -8per cent, management of unemployment -8per cent, and safe drinking water supply -5per cent,” the report claims.