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Lone girls’ school struggling to survive

By Fazal Khaliq

SWAT: In the 30,000-strong town of Mangalwar, Swat, there is only one higher secondary school for girls. And even that one is struggling to survive.

The Government Higher Secondary School for Girls in the town was among hundreds of schools destroyed by Taliban in 2008 across the valley. It was later re-built by the Pakistan Army, but the school still lacks a number of facilities needed by its 800 students. Over the past eight months, the school has not been able to establish a science laboratory or a library.

Most problems, students say, are caused because the school is still without electricity.

“The biggest problem is not having electricity. Everything else is connected to it,” Sumbal, a student of grade 10, told The Express Tribune during a visit to the school on the invitation of its students.

Lessons are disturbed and in some instances, the school is unable to arrange a lesson at all. “We haven’t had a single computer studies lesson because there is never any electricity,” says another tenth-grader Maliha Usman.

The school’s principal, Maryam, says she has launched several complaints with the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) but nothing has come out of it. “We haven’t had electricity since the day we moved in to this building,” she says. “I have repeatedly requested Wapda because we don’t have the resources to restore electricity ourselves.”

However, sub-divisional officer Nazir Ahmad absolves Wapda of all responsibility for the school’s electricity woes. “The school has an independent transformer which has developed a fault. Wapda is not bound to repair independent transformers, it is the responsibility of the education department,” he said.

The capacity of the school building is also insufficient to hold 800 students and there are over 80 students in each class. For some students, having a desk and chair in class is also a luxury.

“There aren’t enough classrooms, desks or chairs. So sometimes, we have to sit on the ground,” says Rubab, a student of the sixth grade. “It gets so congested sometimes that we can’t even write properly.”

Students interested in sports activities feel at a severe disadvantage. “Sport is essential for students but we don’t have any playground,” says Maliha.

These young girls have persevered much for their right to an education and some bitterness seems to have crept into their hearts because of constant hindrances.“During Talibanisation, the insecurity had put a stop to our education. Now, lack of facilities is a hindrance,” Sumbal says.

Source: The Express Tribune