1,000 government primary schools in KPK have been shut down by the elementary and secondary education department. The reason for closing them down is low enrolment and shifting of students to closest schools as per sources.
The school buildings were constructed at abandoned places where very few students could reach. Thus education buildings, costing billions of rupees are thus closed.
As per sources, “Despite the closure of 1,000 schools, the PTI government has been following the past practice to construct schools at the behest of rulers. As in the past, currently the government schools are constructed on the directives of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.”
It was also informed that these schools were constructed as directed by the chief minister. The source said, “We have no power to decide about the construction of a school on the need basis, rather we have to wait for the directives of the chief minister.”
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As per the sources, the chief minister of KPK was constructing schools in the constituencies of lawmakers to please them. The official said, “Not only the chief minister decides the construction of the new primary school but he also decides upgradation of primary schools to middle, high or higher secondary level.”
Every year the development of schools is made a priority in the budget which is approved by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. “After the passage of the budget, the chief minister issues directives to the education department from time to time regarding construction of each school,” he informed.
The official said that the opinion of the education department was not given value upon the decision made by the chief minister and MPAs.
A district education officer has informed that those schools that had less than 40 students in them are closed by the education department and they are mostly located in rural areas of KPK.
Schools closed in Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Bannu, Battagram, Kohistan, Charsadda, Chitral, Mardan, Haripur, Swabi, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Malakand, Swat, Tank, Torghar, Nowshera are 45,100, 65, 60, 90, 87, 58, 55, 60, 60, 55, 60, 12, 15, 10, 10, 7, and 4 respectively.
Most of the schools shut down were developed two decades ago. They asked that “If at present the enrolment in such schools is below 40, how much it would have been at the time of their establishment years ago.”
As per new criteria, a new school is to be established in an area of 1000 population in the surrounding that will admit at least 160 students in the school. As per sources, the criteria was not followed. As per an official from the education department, “If the education department resists the construction of a school at a proposed site for not fulfilling the criteria, on the next day it receives instructions from the chief minister that criteria shall be relaxed.”
Now as per the officials it is not yet decided what will happen with the abandoned buildings.