PESHAWAR – Enrolment in government primary schools in the Upper Dir district has increased by 20 per cent in the year 2003 after parent-teacher associations were revived under the District Education Plan for 2003-2005 , being executed by the Sarhad Rural Support Programme.
A primary school teacher, Bazurg Ahmad, who is also a member of the Kotkai PTA, informed this correspondent during a visit to the Upper Dir headquarters town that enrolment in the primary schools, specially that of girls, had increased by 20 per cent.
He said there was nominal number of girl students at the Kotkai primary school, but at present it was over 50 after the PTA was reactivated.
The PTAs successfully checked teachers’ absenteeism and mobilized the community to send their children to school so that they could have a better future, Mr Ahmad said.
The teacher said that the PTAs also checked the drop-out ratio and prevailed upon parents not take off the children from the school. He said that a student, who had dropped out of the school, returned to his class after four years due to the intervention and efforts of the PTA.
The PTAs, originally formed in 1996, were revived by the SRSP under the Education Sector Reform Assistance (Esra) project launched in Upper Dir district in Sept 2003.
The organization also provided intensive training to the teachers on the method of teaching and children behaviour. A teacher, who has a 20-year service to his credit, was not so late to realize his role after receiving the SRSP training.
Dir – bifurcated into Lower Dir and Upper Dir district in 1996 – was ruled as a state by Nawab Shahjehan Khan until 1960. The overall literacy rate in Upper Dir district is 21.2 per cent, and that of the female stood at 6.1 per cent till 2003.
The low literacy rate in the relatively new district could be ascribed to many factors, including the highly conservative and tribal structure of the society, and the overwhelming poverty. Besides, the Nawab’s rule also did not facilitate access to school.
Yasir Arafat, SRSP education coordinator, said that the organization faced many problems when it started intervention in the community to implement the district education plan (DEP) in collaboration with the stakeholders in Sept 2003.
He said that majority of the PTAs lying dormant were functionlized to intervene in the community as part of the DEP to ensure education of children specially girls.
Mr Arafat said that under the plan, the SRSP also focussed on provision of healthy and secure environment and proper infrastructure to the community to facilitate access to schools in the sparsely-populated district.