Islamabad’s community school lacks in proper building, drinking water, desks

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Zubair Qureshi

Teachers and students of a Basic Education Community School in Islamabad’s Sector E-13 are compelled to take classes under a banyan tree as there is no boundary wall, nor any basic facility like a proper building, toilet, drinking water, playground, library and sitting desks that are necessary for wholesome education and required to run a school.

As the winter has set in, it is becoming quite a challenge to hold classes in the open, particularly when it is cloudy or raining.

Set up in a ‘Mouza’ in the suburbs of Islamabad back in 1998 as One Teacher One School, the Basic Education Community School Bhaikar Fateh Bakhsh is the only educational institute in the locality where children can get free education from Grade-I to Grade-V.

A project of the National Education Foundation (NEF) the ‘One Teacher One School’ kicked off with 25 children in 1998 but by and by it grew and today, there are four teachers—two male and two female— while the number of students has also grown to 130—80 boys and 50 girls.

There are 248 such (one teacher, one school) community schools in the limits of the Islamabad Capital Territory Authority (ICTA).

The purpose was to offer free education and books to those children of the working and labour classes that cannot afford school fees or books. Here both are free.

With the passage of time, it is now becoming quite a challenge to keep these schools running.

Besides Tanveer Ahmed, three other teachers, Muhammad Suleman, Shamim Akhtar and Shumaila Bibi are also devoting their time and energies for the community’s education and welfare.

They are the local guys who after completing their degrees decided to become teachers. However, they might never have imagined that they would have to wait for their salaries for months and their job agreement would exclude benefits like health insurance, casual leaves or loans etc.

We are teaching here only because we belong to this Mouza and we don’t have to travel long distances for livelihood, said Shamim Akhtar.

She however, called for timely payment of salary and its review as well. Provision of sitting desks for the students as they have to sit on mats in the cold days was also one of their demands. Lack of other facilities is also creating a host of problems.

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