Peshawar: Despite education emergency declared by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), District Torghar has not a single high school for girls. This is followed by District Kohistan that has just one and Shangla with three for the whole district.
Torghar, one of the 25 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is situated in the mountainous northern Pakistan. Formerly called Kala Dhaka, Torghar was part of the Manshera district until 2011 when it was given its own status as a district under Article 246 of Constitution of Pakistan.
According to the 1998 census, Kala Dhaka, then a sub-division of Manshera, had a population of 174,700 out of which 18866 were girls of the age of 10 to 14 years.
December 2016 data made available by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) that helps the Education Department monitor implementation of reforms in the education sector showed that the Torghar district did not have a single high school for girls, with only 173 of its girls enrolled in high schools in the neighbouring districts.
The IMU report said there were a total of 62 schools in District Torghar including 61 primary schools for boys and girls and only one middle school for boys.
District Kohistan – with a population of 472,570 according to 1998 census, of which 26022 were girls of age 10 to 14 years girls – only has one high school for girls.
According to 1998 census, district Shangla had a population of 4,35,563 out of which the numbers of age 10 to 14 years girls were 46,219. Currently the number is double of that while there are only three high schools for girls.
According to the IMU report, the district-wise breakup of girls high schools shows Abbottabad with 45 high schools, Bannu 39, Battagaram 7, Bunner 20, Charssadda 32, Chitral 19, DIKhan 12, Dir Bala 12, Dir Lower 44, Hangu 9, Huripur 50, Karak 26, Kohat 27, Lakki Marwat 19, Malakand 29, Mansehra 45, Mardan 67, Nowshera 29, Peshawar 55, Swabi 48, Swat 33 and Tank with 9 high schools.
In Budget 2016-17, the KP government has allocated a “negligible share of education funds to the poor and the rural areas as compared to the urban districts the province”, says the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) a non-profit organization based in Islamabad.
In its report, “Public Financing of Education in Pakistan,” that analyses federal, provincial and district budgets from 2010-11 to 2015-16, I-SAPS says Rs71.66 billion had been allocated for education in the districts of KP in 2014-15. 90 per cent of this budget was spent on salaries and related expenditures. Only 10 per cent was spent on development of schools.
The I-SAPS report shows that Mardan, Peshawar, Mansehra, Swat, Abbottabad, lower Dir and Dera Ismail Khan spent more than Rs4 billion in 2014-15. On the other hand, Hangu and Torghar had an education expenditure below Rs1 billion in the field of education.
Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Abbottabad, Swabi, Lower Dir and Haripur had spent more than Rs20, 000 per student during 2014-15, according to the report. District Torghar, Hangu and Upper Dir spent less than Rs13, 000 per student during the year.
The KP IMU report said there are a total of 2108 high schools in 25 districts of KP of which 1386 are for boys and 722 for girls.
District Mardan has the highest number of girls high schools (67), followed by Peshawar (55) and Swabi (48).
Malik Masood Khan, Programme Manager at the Pakistan Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA), told Truth Tracker said that from the very beginning, successive governments have ignored the remote areas when it comes to education. Ministers, he said, claimed big chunks of budget for their constituencies for political point scoring, ignoring development in other areas.
About girls’ education, Khan said Mardan, the constituency of the present education minister Muhammad Atif Khan, has the highest number of high schools. “The government should address the development needs of districts on the basis of their needs, not on the basis of their status as rural or urban districts,” He said.
He said the reason why girls’ education is ignored is because it is not a priority with lawmakers. “Most ministers are from urban districts and they focus on their constituencies only. When it comes to rural districts, there is also lack of awareness about girls’ education.”
KP Elementary and Secondary Education Department Additional Secretary Qasir Alam Khan said that for the Torghar district, the government had a plan to upgrade one primary school to high school, which would be approved this month (January). Another middle school would be upgraded to higher secondary after approval next month (February).
He said that Torghar only recently became a district, which was why it was ignored by every government, adding, “The government will complete upgrading the two high schools for girls and provide education facilities to people on their door steps.”
KP government spokesman on education Najiullah Khattak said that over the course of three years, 12,031 additional classrooms had been constructed to bring schools up to speed with the 6-classroom policy. He said 360 new schools were also under construction under this policy.
He said construction work this year had focused on girl’s education. “Around 386 schools were upgraded to middle school level, 385 middle schools upgraded to high schools and 207 high schools were upgraded to higher secondary schools,” he concluded.