The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has closed down 223 maktab schools (elementary schools) in Swat and Lower Dir districts of the province, depriving thousands of children of their right to education.
The provincial government issued orders to shut down some 93 maktab schools in Swat and 130 schools in Lower Dir in which thousands of children were getting education.
The maktab school system was introduced in remote areas to educate children up to primary level.
However, in April, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government decided to merge these schools with the government primary schools.
Commenting on the step, a senior citizen Engineer Umar Faroog said; it is the obligation of government to ensure provision of educational facilities to all children which is their basic rights.
He said instead to provide better educational facilities to children the provincial government took the drastic action of closing down the maktabs and deprived thousands of children of their right to education.
Amjad Ali Sahab, an educationist of the area, termed the decision of the government unwise, unpopular and serious below to the PTI’s claims of good governance.
The chief minister should take action of such decision by the education department and should revoke the unwise step, he argued.
Talking to The Nation, an official of local Education Department said that these schools were operating in the remote mountainous areas of the district where no schools for boys and girls were existed.
Some of these schools had been functioning for more than a decade and rendering commendable services to impart education to local children, he added.
Parents of children and civil society activists also expressed their resentment over the decision of provincial government and called for its immediate withdrawal.
Meanwhile, a protest rally was also organised by Alif Ailaan and Innovative Youth Forum and demanded for restoration of the status of the schools immediately.
On this occasion, an educationist Dr Jawad Iqbal told journalists that directives were received from the KP government about discontinuation of the Maktab Schooling System and transfer its students to primary schools across Swat.
He said that the KP government has merged 1,000 maktabs with the primary schools all over the province which have more than o.1 million students strength.
Tahweedullah one of the students of maktab school said; He does not need water or electricity as he wants his school back.
Another student Gul Jana said; My other friends go to schools but I have no school to attend.
Another student Gufranullah said; When I happily returned to his maktab after the summer break, I found the entrance padlocked and notice on the wall stating that the institution has been merged with the primary school nearby. Gufran added; I have extreme thirst for education but cannot travel for 4 kilometers to other school where my school has been merged.
Sanaullah Khan, father of a student told The Nation that he was astonished with planning of incumbent provincial government as first they chanted slogan of revolutionizing the education system by providing modern edicational facilities to students but now they are closing down the existing schools to deprive our children of their right to education.
When contacted Provincial Minister Mehmood Khan said that education is basic right of every citizen and it is the obligation of government to provide standard education to its people.
I accept that this is a wrong decision by the provincial government.
I will definitely raise issue the in the upcoming cabinet meeting to revoke the step, he added.
Local people have appealed to the KP government to review its decision and if it is sincere for providing better education to the children of the province then it should improve the standard and infrastructure of the existing schools instead of closing them.