Missing facilities in educational institutions belie govt’s claims of education reform

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— According to data collected from 13 UCs, all schools need new furniture for classrooms, 2,200 teaching staff is also required

— FDE DG Ayesha Farooq says steps are being taken to improve condition of educational institutions

Despite government’s tall claims of bringing about revolutionary changes in the education sector, the educational institutions paint a grim picture, as around 48 per cent of educational institutions in the country do not have all four components of essential infrastructure—boundary walls, electricity connections, toilets and drinking water facilities.

According to the data gathered by Pakistan Today, educational institutions in the federal capital also depict abysmal picture, as dozens of institutions are still not having the much-needed facilities.

To cater to the schooling needs of all the children between the ages of 5-16 years, as determined by the Constitution of Pakistan, schooling facilities need to be made available at all levels, including primary, middle and higher levels.

According to the union council-wise data collected from 13 UCs out of a total 23 UCs in NA-48, all the schools need new furniture for classrooms, while around 2,200 teaching staff is required in Islamabad schools.

The data—which is submitted by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Asad Umar in National Assembly Standing Committee—showed that 90 per cent schools needed safe drinking water facility, while around 70 per cent schools needed transportation, i.e. buses for staff and students.

The data showed that construction was needed for boundary walls of various schools and library in more than 50 per cent schools.

There are 14 schools in Charah union council and all need teaching staff, filtered drinking water, tables, chairs, barbed boundary walls, library, computer lab, IT equipment, playground facility, more classrooms, repairing of bathrooms and non-teaching staff.

All schools in Pahg Panwal have no furniture and building, whereas windows and doors needed maintenance, the data shows.

According to the data, Islamabad Model School (boys) I-V in Bokra needed office for principal, classrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, boundary wall, filtered drinking water facility, new sewerage line, renovation, chairs, gatekeeper and new steel cupboards.

Similarly, Islamabad Model Schools (girls) No 3 required 200 wooden chairs, 50 chairs for prep class, two classrooms, computers for lab, 10 fans, renovation of building hall, repairing of doors, windows, floor and whitewash.

The detail shared by Alif Ailan—a non-profit organisation working in the field of education in Pakistan since 2013—showed that dozens of schools in the metropolis did not have the required facilities, as only 88.5 per cent of schools were having the facilities.

According to the detail, around three per cent of the schools did not have the boundary wall, seven per cent were without drinking water, two per cent had no electricity, and five per cent of the educational institutions were without toilet facilities.

Besides, 50 per cent of schools in the city had unsatisfactory building condition, while one per cent of primary schools had a single classroom.

Islamabad College for Boys (ICB) in Melody is the oldest college for boys in Islamabad established in 1966; however, most of the windowpanes of classrooms were broken due to which students, as well as the teaching staff, were facing great problems in the chilling weather, as there was no heater in the classrooms.

A senior teacher on the condition of anonymity told this scribe that the students and the teachers of the ICB were facing tremendous hardship during winter, as well as in summer season, because of non-availability of gas connection in classrooms and poor ventilation system.

Sources in the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) ministry told this scribe that an amount of Rs1 billion has been received under the Prime Minister Education Reforms Programme (PMERP) for infrastructure upgradation of model education institutions.

The official said that the amount would be spent on upgrading the infrastructure of 200 schools that includes construction of new classrooms and washrooms, establishment of libraries and laboratories, provision of furniture, construction of boundary walls and other infrastructure work in various institutes.

Earlier, out of the total 422 educational institutions, 22 schools were upgraded by constructing 70 rooms and seven washrooms under the pilot project of PERP.

However, a grade 6 student of the ICB said that they passed through a great ordeal in the chilly weather due to the broken windowpanes of the classrooms. He said that there was no heating facility that further augmented their woes in the winter.

Similarly, a student in Government Girls School, Farash Town, near Sultana Foundation told this correspondent that the minor students were forced to sit on the ground due to the non-availability of furniture.

She demanded of the authority concerned to furnish furniture for the schools, as the majority of the students had to sit on the floor because of the shortage of furniture.

When contacted, Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) Director General, Ayesha Farooq, stated that steps were being taken to improve the condition of educational institutions.

However, when asked about the specific steps being taken for ensuring the provision of the missing facilities to the educational institutions, especially in rural areas of the city, and the allocation made for this purpose, she failed to give a satisfactory answer.