Closure of community model schools to affect education

F.P. Report

TIMERGARA: Future of about 2700 girl students from nursery to grade 10th in Lower and Upper Dir is at stake due to closure of Community Model Schools in parts of the district.

Informed sources told this reporter here on Wednesday that 20 community model schools from primary to high level were run by Khwendo Kor (KK), a non-governmental organization with the financial support of Development in Literacy (DIL), an organization working on educating and empowering the underprivileged girl students since 2001 in Lower and Upper Dir. Sources said the KK withdrew its services owing to the newly introduced regulatory regimes of the economic affairs division Islamabad under which the organization had to get fresh non-objection certificate and sign fresh memorandum of understanding with harder conditions. After the withdrawal of the KK it was difficult for the Development in Literacy to run these schools.

The sources said that over 2700 students mostly girls from nursery to grade 10th were reading in these community model schools which were to be closed this month. The KK project manager in Dir Ibrash Pasha told on contact that the organization had been asked to close its activities in community model schools. He said the enrolled students were taking their annual examination these days while they would be left on God mercy after declaration of their results. Mr Pasha said the closure of community model schools in Dir would not only affected studies of over 2700 students but the families of 145 teachers including some principals.

He said the organization had been providing salaries to staff and free books to students since 2001. The KK district head said his organization also provided teachers’ training, additional learning resources; project based learning and co-curricular activities to students since the formation of those schools. He said that graduated students were also provided with adequate scholarships for their higher education. About future of the schools he said that some of the local lawmakers had been contacted with the request to hand over the schools to the Elementary Education Foundation.

Bakht Zia, one of the headmistresses of community model school at Tootko Ouch said that she had been serving for the last 12 years. She said that 10 female teachers of her school would be jobless if the school with 299 children was closed. She said that girls from nursery to 8th read at her school and they would give up education as there was no school for girls in the area. “Some of my teachers now take pills for curing tension on hearing the report of school’s closure,” Bakht Zia said, adding the decision would affect their families badly.

Naushad Khan, an elder from Paloso Dag in Munda tehsil said that 46 girls were enrolled in class 6th, 7th and 8th at community model school in his village and they would have to give up education as there was no middle school in the village. He said the primary level school in his village was upgraded to middle in 2004 on the request of local population. He said they would bring the students, their families and other people on the roads if the school was closed.

The community model schools, according to a staffer of the Khwendo Kor were set up in remote areas where there was no government school. She said that one of her student was now reading medical education at Fatima Jinnah Medical College Lahore while several others had completed their master degrees. The female staffer said that education standard at those community model school was far better than government schools. She said the KK in collaboration with DIL provided free education to students and their parents were unable to send them to private schools because of their poverty.

Meanwhile, the parents have demanded of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take notice of the matter and make necessary arrangements for all students of community model schools in Lower and Upper Dir.