Mardan: I wanted to be a teacher but due to the non-availability school after primary in my village, I could not continue my education, said Salma Kanwal.
Salma Kanwal – not her real name – is a resident of Village Shakarmore of Gujar Ghari Union Council of Mardan. She left her education after completing grade five in her village. The middle school was too far for her to continue and her poor parents were reluctant to allow her to continue.
Salma Kanwal said that the nearest middle school is located in Gujar Gharhi which is almost 5 kilometers away from her village and it took upto 2 hours by foot to reach that middle school while the rickshaw gets up to 2000 rupees per month for the pick and drop. Most of the parents do not send their daughters so far due to the security measures and financial hurdles, she maintained.
She is not the only one who left her education but every year majority of the students of their village left their study as either they can’t afford or parents not allow them continue due to the security reasons.
Ahmed Ali – resident of shakarmore – said, they also wish that their daughters also get higher education but due to poverty and lack of education facilities in their village they are unable to continue their education after primary stage.
He added, the residents of the village have appealed the former minister for education Atif Khan, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from their constituency Iftikhar Mashwani and officers of the education department to upgrade the primary school but no one taking it seriously.
There are more than 1425 primary schools in the Mardan District out of which 812 for boys and 614 for girls, shows data of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Department. The data further shows that only two schools are non-functional.
The UNICEF data shows, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. In the between 5 to 9 age group, more than 5 million children are not enrolled in schools and the number doubles after primary-school age. Similarly, with 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10-14 not receiving formal education.
Nearly 10.7 million boys and 8.6 million girls are enrolled at the primary level and drops to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level.
Haji Wahaj – former district councilor and local leader of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – said, it is a fact that the residents of the Shakarmore village facing problems due to unavailability of the middle and high school for girls.
He added, the primary school of the said village is also lacking the basic facilities, there are only three rooms in the school and two of them are in very bad condition. Rain water stands in the school for more than two weeks after a heavy rain fall.
Wahaj maintained, the locals of the village also offered free provision of 2 Kanal land for the establishment of the high school but the education department is delaying its upgradation through different bureaucratic tactics.
The year 2015 was marked by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the milestone for achieving universal primary completion for all boys and girls. However, today in the world, there are still more than 50 million out of school children and an additional 200 million in school who are not learning. Pakistan, the sixth most populous and the second with the largest Muslim population country in the world, is home to six million out of school children while millions of children who are enrolled in school are not receiving quality education. The majority of the out of school children are girls, live in poverty and in rural areas, and belong to cultural and linguistic minorities.
Iftikhar Mashwani – MPA PK-26 Mardan – said, he had allocated 20 Million rupees for the upgradation of the Government Primary School for Girls -Shakarmore and land is also arranged for it, education department will soon start it development after fulfilling the requirement.
“I am in contact with the education department, there was some problem is the arrangement of suitable land for the girls school, but the issue is now resolved and the issue will be resolved soon”, Mashwani maintained.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated Rs 850 million in budget of Financial Year 2019-20 for Upgradation of Educational Institutions from primary to middle, middle to high or high to. Similarly, Rs 40 million was allocated for removal of staff deficiencies in newly opened areas in education and tribal Districts. Moreover, Rs 20 million for Provision of Facilities in Existing Primary Schools for Early Child Education
When contacted, Shamim Akhtar – District Education Officer (Female) Mardan – confirmed that a local of the Shakarmore village has provided the land for the upgradation of the girls primary school but the land is not transferred to education department yet.
“We have sent the case to the concerned authority for the process and after completion of the legal requirement, development of the school will be started”, she added.