‘Progress’ steamrolls elementary school for KU staff’s children


The lower staff of the University of Karachi (KU) has been deprived of the only school for their children in the varsity’s premises and as a result, they are forced to send their children out of campus for schooling as the university management has replaced the non-functional school with two new institutes. The Old Students Association of Karachi University had been running the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School in KU premises for decades when it was shut down because the investing old students had either moved abroad or died. Hence, the school was abandoned for want of funds from investing students.
The university management recently decided to replace the school with two new institutes as it had been lying unproductive for some time. The school’s building comprised four halls that have now been divided into two institutes. Both the institutes have been allotted two halls each. However, the institutes are yet to start functioning as renovation is still under way. A security guard of the varsity said, “I have five children – three sons and two daughters – and all of them are of school going age. My daughters, who are the eldest among the five, were students at the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School, which has been closed owing to lack of funds and faculty. My youngest child is now five years old and I want him to start his education, but I am confused as to where to send him for that.”
He also said there is currently no school at the KU campus where he could send his children. There used to be another school in the campus – the Dr Mahmood Hussain Secondary School – which was initially established in an apartment of C-type flats in the varsity, and was transferred to another apartment later on. The retired professors of the varsity used to teach the children pro bono. However, this school was closed with the passage of time, whereas the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School was operational and imparting quality education until recently.
At present, there are two schools outside the varsity, the Ideal Grammar School in Ayub Goth and the Shadow of University in Rizwan Society. Both of them are approximately three to five kilometres away from the university. “We are poor people and cannot afford any school conveyance for our children as we can hardly pay their fees,” the security guard added dejectedly. Karachi University Teachers Society President Abid Hasnain said he does not know much about the said school as he had joined the varsity in 1998 when it was running in a dilapidated condition, but he has heard from many senior professors of the varsity that it used to be an excellent school.
He said the quality of education imparted in this school could be gauged from the fact that the professors sent their children to this school.
Describing various reasons of its downfall, he said with the passage of time, some private schools opened up in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town and professors started sending their children to those schools. However, enjoying nominal fee, people of the lower grades continue to send their children to this renowned institution. He said the syndicate has turned a deaf ear to this issue, but he vowed that he would try to convince the syndicate members for raising voice against the genuine issue. There is a dire need of a model school in the varsity’s vicinity like the NED University of Engineering & Technology Model School where teachers can send their children for quality education, Hasnain added.
An official of the varsity said the syndicate of the university has raised its voice for establishing a school for university employees in its meetings, but no development has taken place so far. He said the KU syndicate first demanded a school in the varsity in early 1990s when the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School was still functioning. However, when the said school started decaying in the mid-90s, the syndicate once again raised its demand of another school for university employees, but the plan for another school was put on hold. After 2000, the problem of schooling facility was raised in syndicate meetings several times, but the authorities concerned paid no heed to their demands. By this time, the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School had stopped functioning due to lack of funds and faculty.
The varsity management, however, instead of taking the school under their control, dissolved it into two institutes – the Information Technology Centre and the Professional Development Centre (PDC) for teachers, he added. He said the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School has the honour of imparting education to the daughter of former KU deputy registrar Mazhar Hussain, who had clinched the top position in the Board of Secondary Education Karachi annual examination of 1980. “The school was popular in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town and students from every part of the town used to attend it. It was a great benefit to KU employees,” he added. PDC Supervisor Dr Shakil Faruqi said the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Committee on Education has shown keen interest for establishing the teachers’ training institute.
As the Aliya Mushtaq Elementary School was abandoned, the KU management decided to hand over the school building to them for this purpose, he added. He said the FPCCI invested and renovated this dilapidated building for initiating teachers’ training programmes.
PDC has now a platform where senior teachers could hold seminars, programmes and lectures for training junior teachers.