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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

PESHAWAR: 163 school buildings declared dangerous

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PESHAWAR: 163 school buildings declared dangerous

PESHAWAR, Jan 15: The authorities have declared 163 buildings of public sector schools dangerous in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where lives of thousands of children may be at risk.

The directorate of education, Fata, had conducted a survey of the public sector buildings in the seven tribal agencies and six Frontier Regions and declared structures of 163 school buildings unsafe.

“The directorate will seek opinion from the engineering department to demolish the buildings or if it can be repaired,” said an official. He admitted that the buildings had been declared unsafe.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with a foreign donor agency last year, said that 126 primary, 20 middle and 17 high school buildings were dangerous, while more than 500 public sector school buildings required major repair work.

In the Bajaur region, 32 primary school buildings, in Mohmand, 28 and in Khyber, 26 buildings had been declared dangerous.

The report said that of 4,575 primary schools in the public sector in Fata, 1,777 schools were without basic facilities, including drinking water, toilets, electricity and boundary walls. Similarly, 751 community schools in the region have no basic facilities.

The condition of schools in six Frontier Regions is more pathetic. The report said that in FR Dera Ismail Khan, 42 of 87 primary schools were without electricity and toilets and 54 schools had no drinking water facility.

A senior official told Dawn that the directorate had no resources to carry out repair and maintenance works or provide facilities in schools in Fata and it depended on foreign assistance.

He said the United States Agency for International Development and the Japanese government had launched a schools rehabilitation programme in the tribal area last year.

Under the programme, he said, the USAID would construct and rehabilitate over 50 schools in the tribal region.

An official at the office of the Agency Education Officer in Khyber Agency said five primary schools had been constructed under the USAID programme and some NGOs were providing basic facilities in several schools in the area. But the pace of work was very slow, because of the law and order situation, he added

The USAID is working with the Fata directorate of education to increase school enrolment by constructing and furnishing 65 primary, middle and high schools, out of a total of 4,583 public schools, in Fata. Thirty schools have been completed in the region and work was underway on another 22.

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