By Nizam Rahim Baloch

A Primary School building fixed after PakVoices reported the problems facing the school and the community in Panjgur district of Balochistan

Left side: The photo shows a fixed floor where students can at least sit.  Right side Photo: PakVoices reported this in January showing the deteriorating floor of the school.

Only a couple of months ago this school looked like a ‘ghost’ building with debris all over the place bringing the number of students down to a single digit. The classrooms had an uneven floor. The school is still without any furniture and toilet.

PakVoices’ report “A school in a shabby condition in Panjgur” published on January 23rd prompted the concerned authorities to take initial steps to ease the worries of the students. Though these steps are not adequate, however, the wind of change seems to be blowing with some sort of action at the Government Primary School, Karimabad Issai, Panjgur by the local officials.

While passing through the school recently, I was astonished to see a new look of the school building with an ongoing renovation. I decided to go inside the building to check if there was any improvement in the school.

Bashir Ahmed, the only teacher in the school, was busy in teaching the students in a renovated building. I noted a surge in the number of students studying at the school in sharp contrast to the reducing strength of students when I visited the school last time.

Related: Why this school appears ‘bombed’

What really surprised me was the enrolment of girls who could be seen studying along with boys as they were offered admission for the first time at the school.

Previously, there was not a single girl student in the school due to its condition.

Girls have also got admission in the school for the first time after the school improved.

Ahmed could not hide his joy as he started narrating the positive turnaround in the condition of the school thanking PakVoices for its earlier reporting of the issues plaguing the school, “I am thankful to PakVoices for highlighting the problems of this school which woke up the authorities.”

“The whole building has changed after renovation,” he said.

All this happened after PakVoices reported in January how the students’ primary education was getting affected due to lack of basic facilities.

“You can see new doors, windows, fixed floor, coloured building and a polished black board, ” he said gleefully.

Crediting PakVoices for its earlier report, Ahmad added, “A team of education officials had visited the school assuring me to fix the issues facing the school soon after PakVoices highlighted the problems.”

He told us that the school has given admission to 12 girls for the first time after their parents showed interest because of the improving condition of the school. There are also14 boys currently enrolled in the school.

“Day by day, new students are coming for an admission,” Ahmed said.

Despite some improvement in the physical structure of the building, the school continues to face some lingering issues including the shortage of teaching staff.

“Our main demand for the appointment of a teacher is still pending,” Ahmad said.

In January, PakVoices showed debris laying on the front of the school building, which has been cleared now paving way for the students to walk without any hassle. File Photo.

And the furniture is still missing from the school.

However, the floor of the classroom has been fixed which was uneven, previously. Now students can at least use the floor.

Naseer is the class five student at the school, said, “We want to go to school because we have the floor to sit.”

He said, “Now I’m happy to continue my primary schooling here.”

The doors of the school have also been replaced with new ones.

Waheed Baloch, a resident of the area said, “Finally, attention has been paid to this neglected school and all of us are excited to see the change.”

He is hoping that the local officials would continue to improve the condition of the school.

“It’s a shame that we do not have basic facilities such as fan and furniture in the 21st century,” he said.

When I contacted district chairman of the local government, Malik Saleh, he thanked PakVoices for bringing the school issue to light and his notice, “We came to know about the school’s issues after PakVoices published a report.”

He continued, “We have released funds for numerous schools in Panjgur including this one. We will provide all the missing facilities.”

Sabir Baloch, a prominent educationist in Panjgur has often shown concerns over the use of funds raising a question mark on the credibility of the education department. “The lack of transparency continues to plague the education sector in Panjgur district.”

Showing his skepticism about the use of education funds in the district, he claimed that a bigger chunk of funds never reaches its actual place.

However, he noted, “Sometimes the small amount spent rightly also makes a difference such as in the case of Government Primary School, Karimabad in Punjgur.”

Nizam Rahim Baloch is working with PakVoices as a citizen journalist from Punjgur. All photos by the author. 

Hasan Khan edited this article in Islamabad.