Renovated Islamabad schools still lack classrooms

ISLAMABAD:11 May: Ayesha Imran, a 12-year-old student in the seventh grade, is one of over 200 students victim of negligence on the part of the public school system. Along with her classmates, she has been studying under the open sky, due to an absence of classrooms in her recently renovated school in the federal capital. “I’ve had a headache because of the hot weather,” she said, fanning herself with her notebook. “It’s too hot today.” Ms Imran is a student at the Islamabad Model School for Girls (IMCG I to VIII) Kot Hatyal, Bhara Kahu, where over 200 students are studying without classrooms. Alisha Rubab, a sixth grader, said she considered herself lucky after seeing seventh graders studying out under the open sky. The sixth grade’s classes are held in the veranda, she said. However, the veranda offers them little respite from the heat, as there are no fans installed for them. In addition to the sixth grade, grades three and four are also studying on the veranda. Students forced to study outdoors, new classrooms to be built once all schools renovated under education reforms programme The federal government recently renovated 22 schools, including this one, under the prime minister’s education reform programme. The programme has cost millions of rupees, but these students do not seem to have benefited. Last year Maryam Nawaz, the prime minister’s daughter, made a ‘surprise’ visit to this very school, and according to the teachers, promised that new classrooms would be built. An official from the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) expressed surprise over the government’s move. “The immediate need of students at government schools is classrooms, but the government after spending millions of rupees renovated 22 schools and are now going to repeat the same model [facelift] in another 200 schools, but no one is thinking about constructing new classrooms,” he said. He said the FDE recently finalised the PC-1 of 200 schools, which does not cover the construction of classrooms. The official said that after renovating the first 200 schools, the remaining 200 would be renovated under another project, and then “our bosses say they will think about the construction of classrooms”. Another FDE official said the higher-ups at the directorate and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) were responsible for convincing the government to reprioritise. “The government gives funding, so it was the duty of our officers to guide the federal government on where the money should be utilised,” he said. Model Colleges director Dr Tariq Masood, who is the coordinator of the education reforms programme, could not be reached for comment regarding the situation at the Kot Hatyal school. However, Dr Masood recently told Dawn that the government would move towards constructing new classrooms after all the schools had been renovated. According to an FDE survey conducted last year, there are 1,191 classrooms required by educational institutions. The total number of required classrooms is 6,121, while FDE institutions only possess 4,930.Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2016.