The elementary and secondary education department first monitoring report regarding the state of education in the merged tribal districts sketches a bleak picture of student attendance and facilities available at educational institutes.

The report that has been compiled by Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) of the education department, accesses the performance of 98 percent schools in the province, which includes seven tribal districts and six frontier regions. The monitors visited 5,788 government schools out of 5889, according to a statement issued by the provincial government, on Tuesday.

The findings of the report indicated that the attendance percentage of teachers in schools was 82 percent, while 62 percent students attended schools regularly. Out of 508,937 enrolled students, 192,243 were absent from schools, the report found. FR Lakki tops the list of absentee students with almost 70 percent students remaining absent from schools at the time of the monitors’ visit. The former FRs of Bannu and Tank stood second and third with 60 percent and 59 percent absentee students, respectively.

Similarly, 57 percent students were found absent in the entire South Waziristan tribal district. Others in the list included Khyber (45 percent), Mohmand (38 percent), Orakzai (27 percent), Bajaur (24 percent), Dera Ismail Khan (52 percent), Kohat (38 percent) and Peshawar (27 percent).

The findings of the report indicated 45 percent schools had no electricity provision, while 82 percent schools had no boundary walls. Almost 49 percent schools failed in the provision of clean drinking water to students, while 30 percent had no washrooms at all.

This report was issued just after a detailed meeting was held between the adviser to chief minister on elementary and secondary education Ziaullah Bangash and IMU officials. This meeting was also attended by IMU Project Director Ziaul Haq, IMU Additional Project Director Abidullah Kakakhel, Deputy Director Asad Sarwar and other officials from the education department.

Commenting on the report, Advisor to Chief Minister on Education Ziaullah Bangash said the incumbent government was making efforts to ensure the availability of basic facilities in schools, under the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said Rs 36 billion will be expended on the facilitation of education in tribal areas under the new fiscal budget 2019-20. He said the services of IMU were now extended to the tribal areas and frontier regions, just after their merger into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

However, a source demanding anonymity stated that the situation of the education department was much worse than the findings of the report. The visit of monitors to schools was deemed as a surprise visit, however, it was planned in merged districts because it was the first of its kind visit to the government schools, the source added. Moreover, the monitors’ were not aware of the location of different schools hence teachers and relevant authorities were given the responsibility to help the team, further questioning the credibility of the report.

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