Pakistan tribal areas’ already fragile education sector is drastically affected in result of decade long war on terrorism. As per statistics of Fata Education Department, total 1195 educational institutions were targeted; 555 institutions were completely destroyed while the remaining were partially damaged.
South Waziristan Agency suffered the most where 204 educational institutions were targeted. In Khyber Agency 180, in Orakzai Agency 149, while in Mohmand Agency 127 institutions were targeted.
Fata Secretariat has said the government is spending three and half billion rupees on promotion of education in FATA. Government is working on re-building education infrastructure. The Secretariat claims that it has initiated 59 projects in education sector out of which 53 projects have been completed.
Muhammad Shoaib, Deputy Director at Fata Education Department, told Tribal Post; “Out of total 1195 damaged educational institutions, 892 institutions are under re-construction while work on the reaming 303 will be started by the end of this year.”
“Every effort is made for uplifting the education sector in Fata. Under the strategy (plan); we start educational activities in tents and start work on repairing partially or completely damaged buildings,’’ added Muhammad Shoaib.
Though, government claimed to be working on revival of education but local people have been complaining that government has carried out surveys several times to rebuild the damaged schools and provide infrastructure but nothing effective was done in practice.
On one side government has initiated mass enrolment campaign. “Last year, 1,30,000 students were enrolled, and this year enrolment target is 2,00,000 students, all over Fata. Education Department officials, local Administration, Security Forces, area’s Ulema-e-Karam (religious clerics) and the tribal elders are cooperating to reach the target,” said Muhammad Shoaib.
On the other side, students in many tribal areas read beneath tents without basic facilities like electricity, drinking water and toilets.
Janas Khan, principal of the Government High School alam Godar in Tehsil Bara told Tribal Post that his school was one of most affected schools in Fata. He added that the school is unusable and its students read under tents.
“In 2009, we had 1400 students but today there are only 150 students in our school. Its building is in very poor condition and there is no electricity and water, all the school activities are carried out under these tents,” said the principal.
In Bara Tehsil, the government with cooperation of China has to re-construct 68 Schools under a project of Chinese government of worth Rs. 1628 Million but after lapsing several months the project could not be started. However, a senior official of Education Department said that work on this project is underway, and all the departmental procedures are completed, adding that soon Tenders of the Project will be advertised.
Mohmand Agency was also affected badly in war against terrorism. According to the Fata’s Education Department data, 127 Educational Institutions were destroyed in which 75 are now under construction.
An officer of the Education Department, Khaista Khan told Tribal Post that thousands of students in Mohmand Agency are still without textbooks. “Overall about 70,000 students are enrolled in government Institutions. In April 2016, we demanded for textbooks but some 41,000 students were given only one or two books each while the remaining 29,000 students still have no textbook,” said Khaista Khan.
Deputy Director of Fata Education department, Muhammad Shoaib said while responding to a question that they have to process everything through procedure. “As per demand, books are demanded from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Text Books Board. There is a system for distribution of books at Fata Secretariat, but they are facing problems due to the displacement of tribes.”
Muhammad Shoaib said that many areas in Fata where we have schools and teachers but zero number of students. People are still to be repatriated in such areas. He said that those areas are on the top priority of government. “Remote areas and militancy hit villages of Khyber Agency, North and South Waziristan, Orakzai and Kurram Agencies are on government’s top priority to resettle the displaced tribes and re-open schools for them,” he told.
According to non-government organizations, Girls literacy rate is below 3%, even less than previous years. Answering to the question regarding the declining literacy rate among girls in Fata, Muhammad Shoaib said; “In Fata, when a girl reaches 5th grade, parents withdraw her from Schooling as per tribal traditions. They limit her to home.”
Government is initiating a program with cooperation of World Food Program (WFP) to award one thousand rupees monthly scholarships to girl students from sixth to 10th, to encourage and facilitate girl’s education in Fata.
However, despite such handsome projects, interest of international NGOs and funds, thousands of children are still out of schools in tribal areas. Most of the enrolled students have no textbooks, institutions are in need of reconstruction and more enrolment and girls’ education is in worst situation even than the near past.