The future of tribal students

This is an accepted fact that the wave of terrorism has made every individual and section of  the then FATA pay an irreparable loss. The houses of the public were destroyed; businesses wereblocked; people became paralyzed psychologically; life and property were looted, and even they were made compelled to quit their houses and live a miserable life in camps and tents. As a result of this situation, the tribal went through a very tough life which was not even thought about. Those hands which were always used to help others became so weak financially to be helped; their children were deprived of education because thousands of their schools were blown away completely or partially on one side, while living as nomads, parents were unable to admit their children in the schools, on the other side. Those who tried to admit their children would face the problem of presenting certificates and date of birth etc. In short, internally displaced students paid a lot of miseries while getting education in this challenging life out of their home towns.

To cope up with this situation, FATA Education Department in collaboration with FATA Education Foundation (FEF) launcheda 3-year Project ‘Literacy for All’, being a part of Annual Development Programme (ADP) in 2016, to facilitate the temporary displaced children get education and also to provide an opportunity for the out-of-school children come into the educational environment, as there is a large number of seven hundred thousand (700,000) out of school children in FATA. According to the said project, on the feasibility and recommendations of Agency Education Officers, points were identified to establish schools across FATA by the name of Alternate Learning Schools (ALS) for the children, boys and girls, of age group 9–16. A condensed course was introduced on the analogy of Accelerate Learning Programme (ALP), meant to issue certificates of 5th class to the students after being taught in a single year.

Recently,almost 5000 students of 1st Batch belonged to almost 150 of ALS were given away 5th Pass certificates. But due to unavailability of government schools in the far flung areas like Tirah valley, these Primary passed students, boys and girls, of ALS are expected to become out-of-school children once again, which means that the fruitful step taken by FATA Education Foundation (FEF) will be of no use anymore and children will be deprived of further education. It’s the need of the day that at least two teachers should be appointed on emergency basis to teach the Middle classes (6th–8th) in the said schools (ALS) in those far flung areas of FATA where there are no government schools or schools are beyond the access of students. Similarly, public schools should be established on emergency basis to cope up with this situation, an emergency which is not limited to banners, seminars, media, advertisements and public speeches only.

Though the Alternate Learning Schools (ALS) are established in FATA particularly to educate the TDPs and out-of-school children of the age group 9–16, which is a project of just 3 years. But it is a fact that thousands of children of the age group 4–8, come to almost half (50%) of the said Alternate Learning Schools despite the unavailability of enough space and resources , in order to quench their thirst of knowledge in the remote and hard areas of FATA. Likewise, the parents of these little kids send them to ALS with the high expectations of getting education. But the project is limited to enroll and educate 40 students only with a single teacher and limited furniture.

Tirah is one of these deprived areas where hundreds of students, boys and girls, come only for attendance in the project schools, but, there is no facility of formal education for them on the part of the government. Though, the owner of the schools and concerned teachers do facilitate the students with mats, jute tots, drinking water and other basic necessities. It means that the government is taking steps to facilitate out-of-school children and TDPs, but, thousands of children become over-age due to unavailability of formal schools in the area on the part of the government. It means that schooling-age children should wait to become over-aged so that a condensed course may be started in a non-formal school. Otherwise, formal schools should be established on the part of the government on emergency basis, or these Alternate Learning Schools (ALS) should be converted into Community Based Educational Centers (CBEC) where out-of-school children should be facilitated with ‘Condensed Course’ under ‘Education for All (EFA)’. Similarly, a separate teacher should be appointed/ hired to teach the established curriculum of KP Textbook Board, to students below the age of 8. These Literacy Centers or CBECs should be provided with formal school buildings and sanctioned posts under ADP or Non ADP. If the above stated necessary points are not implemented properly, it will be a failure of ‘Education for All’ project launched by Directorate of Education FATA and FATA Education Foundation in the fulfillment of its mission.

Jehad Afridi


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