As part of rigorous efforts to improve school enrolment and retention across the province, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will offer afternoon classes as well as transport facilities for out-of-school students.

The main focus of the programme will be to be to ensure that no child remains out of school only because of the long distance between the institute and his or her residence. The project will be initiated under the Sustainable Transition and Retention in Delivering Education (STRIDE), and the pilot projects will be run in Swabi and Kohat districts.

According to stats revealed in the National Plan of Action 2013-2016, one of the key reasons for both children not ever attending schools and dropping out of schools before completing primary level, was schools being too far away from places of residences. The report revealed that 7% of boys aged 10-18 years old in rural areas never attended school due to schools being too far away, while the percentage jumped to 10 in case of girls. Such trends have continued despite authorities providing free book, school uniforms and stipends. The long distances have also become a major deterrent for parents given the security situation across the country, especially concerns over safety of girls.

The STRIDE aims at addressing all such concerns and urging parents to send their children to school regularly. The KP government’s Elementary and Secondary Education Department (K-P ESED) and Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) will be implementing the STRIDE project to help improve school enrolments as well as retention at all levels of education across the province

For this reason, girls living more than two kilometres from school will be offered a pick and drop facility, while boys in a similar situation will be given bicycles to ensure their presence at schools.

There will also be afternoon classes scheduled in about 30 primary and middle schools in pilot districts in order to accommodate students who cannot make it to schools at routine hours for one reason or the other.

The 103 teachers that will run the schools will also be offered extra amount for their additional services, with head teachers getting Rs 13,000 and junior teachers Rs 12,000 per month during the project’s run.

The Academia believes it is an excellent initiative by the parties concerned and must be expanded to other parts of the province and subsequently the country to ensure that a maximum number of children has access to schools and education. Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the right to free education to all children aged 5-16. Steps such as STRIDE are crucial in implementing the article in true letter and spirit.

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