Govt’s apathy towards education may hurt FATA peace process


ISLAMABAD: In the wake of successful military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a number of standard educational institutions were built in the region aimed at providing quality education to the people of the area.

In this regard, Cadet College Wana, Cadet College Spinkai and Army Public School Shakai were built with a purpose to beat the militant tendencies in the tribal region, as militancy could not be defeated through the use of force alone.

However, the civil government’s role vis-à-vis the conflict-riddled areas is quite disappointing, as the fruits of the military operation operations could only last long if people of the areas are given an opportunity of education, but the government paid no heed towards the issue.

A senior official at FATA Directorate of Education told Pakistan Today that FATA educational institutions are facing acute teaching staff shortage to make these newly established educational institutions functional.

He said the Ministry of Finance is delaying the approval of 2,082 school teachers and 280 posts for the newly built cadet colleges.

According to a report, released by Alif Ailaan education initiative in mid-2016, there are 6,050 educational institutions in FATA, of which 4,868 (2,905 for boys and 1,963 for girls) are functional, while 1,182 (683 for boys and 499 for girls) are non-functional. The overall dropout rate from kindergarten to class five, over the period of the last six years, had been 73 per cent, of which 70were boys and 77girls.

The official said the inordinate delay by the Ministry of Finance could badly hurt the efforts of durable peace in the region.

The FATA education directorate sought approval of 2,082 teaching cadres’ posts for high, middle and primary schools; another 75 posts for Cadet College Wana; 205 for Cadet College Spinkai area of FATA region in 2016, but no headway has been made in this regard.

The latest survey conducted by FATA Secretariat and the Bureau of Statistics shows the overall literacy rate in FATA is 33.3%; far less than the national average of 58% as estimated in 2013-14.

Similarly, the adult literacy rate in FATA is 28.4% while the national average is 57%. There is a marked gender gap in literacy. Male adult literacy rate in FATA is 45% whereas the same for women is only 7.8%, the survey stated.

Muzaffar Burki, the deputy Financial Advisor (DFA) at Ministry of Finance, said every department, including FATA education directorate, seeking vacancies’ approval should pursue their cases.

He said there is no visible hurdle in approval of teaching staff vacancies, but FATA education department should follow its case appropriately.

“The finance division of the Ministry of Finance had approved 335 teaching posts of the required 386 vacancies in the fiscal year 2014-15,” he recalled.

FATA Director Education Hashim Khan Afridi could not be reached despite repeated attempts.

However, when contacted, Khan Malik, president of All FATA Teachers Association, said that FATA was facing acute teachers shortage; however, the issue would be resolved, as the NTS was held for a total of the 1761 posts advertised in 2016.

He said the results have already declared so the posting on the various positions is expected soon after Eid.

He said that a large number of postings are expected in July and interview for new hiring would be held in August and September.