Militancy brings the curtain down on 13 Peshawar schools, PA told

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PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Thursday admitted in the provincial assembly that 13 primary and middle schools for boys and girls had been shut down on the outskirts of Peshawar due to militancy. In a written reply to a question submitted to the provincial assembly, the department of elementary and secondary education said 160 primary and middle schools had been closed down across the province due to lawlessness, natural disaster, unavailability of teachers and land disputes.

According to the reply, 28 schools have been closed down in Battagram, 14 in Charsadda, 24 in Kohistan, 15 in Hangu, 15 in Dera Ismail Khan, three in Swabi and two in Tank.

It said 39 schools had been shut down in Swat since 2010 when flash floods played havoc with the area, while two more schools had been abandoned due to militancy in the district.

Opposition MPA Mufti Syed Janan, who raised the question, said figures provided by the relevant department were incorrect.

During the question hour, the lawmaker from Hangu district said 47 schools had been declared dysfunctional in Peshawar only due to militancy and shortage of teachers.

He pointed out that the department had submitted written reply to the assembly secretariat in February last in which 385 schools, including 295 for girls, were declared dysfunctional in the province.

Mr Janan demanded action against officials for producing wrong data about schools.

His question was referred to the relevant standing committee of the house.

The education department came under fire for providing wrong information about schools to the assembly and its poor performance.

Discrepancy in figures also put elementary and secondary education minister Mohammad Atif in an awkward position, who had to promise strict action against officials concerned.

“They (officials) have not only tried to deceive this august house but also humiliated me,” said Mohammad Atif while responding to a question raised by MPA Zareen Gul.

He said he could never tolerate such irresponsible behavior of the officers and they would be punished.

The administrative secretaries again ignored the ruling of Speaker Asad Qaisar, who had issued directives on Wednesday that the relevant secretary and his staff should be present during the session.

The opposition members staged a walkout against what they called antagonistic behavior of the bureaucrats and for ignoring the ruling of the chair.

“Mr Speaker, the government does not take your ruling seriously, so I will not participate in discussion unless the elementary and secondary education secretary does come to the assembly,” said MPA Zareen Gul.

Following his remarks, opposition members walked out of the house.

Taunting remarks by the opposition members embarrassed Speaker Asad Qaisar who ordered to adjourn sitting until the arrival of secretary education Afzal Latif in the house.

When the session restarted, MPA Zareen Gul said the building for higher secondary school for boys and girls was constructed in Torghar district in 1996-1997, but it could not be commissioned due to unavailability of teachers.

After 16 years, he said the department had replied that the higher secondary school did not exist in the area.

The sorry state of affairs in the education department is that there is only one middle school for girls in the entire Torghar district.

“Let me know who is responsible for this act,” Zareen Gul said, adding that status quo was still intact despite imposition of education emergency in the province.

Minister Mohammad Atif said the government was appointing 14,000 teachers to overcome shortage of teachers.

He said the monitoring system had been introduced to check presence of teachers and students in schools.