By Sohaib Iqbal
After Pak Voices published a report on the plight of students of five Bhakkar schools run in a rented building, the district government merged two of the schools along with their assets and liabilities with main girls’ elementary school of the tehsil.
However, The Government Girls Elementary School is located in Mohallah Mohajareen which is three kilometers away from the area where the primary schools were earlier located.
For past five decades, the district government of Bhakkar remained indifferent towards five public schools that have been operating from privately rented buildings that lack basic facilities.
The schools were located in Darya Khan Tehsil of the district and had been functioning due to the dedication of the teachers working there. The teachers working at the schools volunteered to pay the rent of school building and electricity bills to save the schools from closure.
Chief Executive Education Officer, Babar Mukhtar, told Pak Voices that the government intends to shift the rest of the three schools to new buildings as soon as the funds are available.
He acknowledged the fact that these schools are operating from a rented building lacking basic amenities. The schools do not have furniture for students and in the absence of proper sitting arrangement, the children have to sit on the cold floor even in the winters.
Although parents are relieved at moving their children to a school with proper building and basic facilities, at the same time they are also concerned about the closure of the schools in their areas.
The local government’s decision to shift the primary schools to far off areas has increased the home-school distance which might discourage some parents from sending their children to the new school considering the daily commute cost.
The residents of the area prefer to retain the educational facility within their catchment area and demand the government to upgrade the existing schools.
Interestingly, these schools are located in the previous constituency of Chief Minister Punjab who had launched “Khadam-i-Punjab Zewar-i-Taleem Programme” in 16 districts of southern Pun a few months back, while ignoring the underlying issues of the education system.
Sohaib Iqbal is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from southern Punjab region.