A parliamentary subcommittee on Monday raised their concerns about the dilapidating state of affairs of public schools in the capital, particularly the ones that were situated in rural areas. A subcommittee of the Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training held a meeting at the Parliament House and discussed matters related to the maintenance of public schools in the capital. Participants of the meeting had consensus over the preposition that Islamabad’s public schools should act as a role model for schools in other parts of the country.

There are 423 public schools and colleges in the capital that are administered by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE). Several schools in the Capital were in poor shape and needed an immediate revamping by the authorities. The previous government led by PML-N launched the Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme to renovate 223 of these educational institutions, but the project could not be completed due to alleged allegations of substandard work. Also, no project was proposed for the remaining 200 schools, most of which needed maintenance and repair work.

While receiving a briefing on maintenance work and the education budget, subcommittee’s convenor Senator Rana Maqbool said the Ministry of Federal Education should take immediate measures to renovate government school buildings. He said the condition of some of the schools was very poor and hence could be fatal for students.

Officials from the ministry and the FDE told the committee that the ministry had conducted a baseline survey of all 423 institutions to access the missing facilities and the needed maintenance work. The committee was informed that 90 percent of the budget was expended on employee-related expenditure. The FDE was also responsible to carry out repair work through the Public Works Department, which was much expensive than other local contractors.

Senator Javed Abbasi said Islamabad’s schools and colleges had the best school infrastructure and laboratories due to which they held a positive repute. However, the condition of these schools was quite different now, as they were deteriorating with time.

Senator Mohammad Ali Khan Saif added that some schools in the rural areas were in such miserable condition that their buildings could collapse, while drinking water arrangements were unhygienic giving birth to countless diseases. Senator Saif suggested assistance from the private sector could help in renovating these schools.

Senator Maqbool asked the FDE to draft a plan recommending improvement in these schools related to infrastructure and quality of education. The subcommittee also discussed the issues faced by higher education, with Senator Saif adding that irrelevant subjects were included in PhD curricula. He suggested that PhD studies should be made easier for research scholars and changes must be introduced in methodology of these programmes.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) officials told the committee that a board, comprising of five to seven members were responsible to make decisions related to PhD courses, to which Senator Maqbool asked if there was a committee present to keep a check on the activities of the board. He recommended the HEC to present a report on this matter in the next 15 days.

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