With just a couple of week to go for elections, aspiring candidates for national and provincial assembly got together with education providers, parents, civil society, political workers and education activists in Haripur, under the banner of Pyara Hazara (a local campaign that strives for education reforms). The state of education in Haripur, problems and their possible solutions were discussed for the improvement of quality education in Haripur’s public schools.
Shazia Jadoon (PMLN), Aijaz Durrani (PPP), Qazi Ateeq-ur-Rehman (Pakistan Falah Party), Syed Hamid Shah (PMLQ), Syed Farooq Shah (MMA), Razia Jaffry (MWM) are the candidates for NA-17, PK 40, 41 and 42 who participated in this debate. PTI was represented by Dr. Irfan Nasir, President – District Minority Wing.
Haripur is the gateway to the beautiful Hazara division which is famous for its pleasant weather and breathtaking tourist resorts. It is fundamentally an agricultural area but it possesses immense potential to support industrial establishments as well. These industries produce a range of goods for domestic use as well as for exports. Telephone Industries of Pakistan (TIP) is the large industrial unit that employs locals in thousands, is also located in the lush green city of Haripur.
Despite of remaining on top of Alif Ailaan’s District Education Rankings in 2013 and 2017, Haripur faces many problems in the education sector. Majority of the district schools are not equipped with the right tools to provide students with the necessary skills they would need to support to reform, sustain and benefit these industries in the future.
A visible gender discrimination in terms of education as there are 59% schools for boys and only 41% schools for girls in whole district as well as in every constituency of the area. Almost 76% schools in the district accommodate children in primary, while only 24% of the total number of schools provides education above primary level. Ultimately, students graduating from primary schools stand at risk of drop-out. There are about 5 UCs which have either no high/higher-secondary school for girls or boys or both for these children to enroll and study in.
Lack of basic facilities is another major issue. In PK-41, there are 76 schools without electricity and 56 without water availability. Gender disparity and poor school infrastructure impacts quality of learning. According to the latest available statistics, failure ratio in matriculation exams is fairly high. Subject-wise maximum number of students failed in Math, English and Science respectively. Moreover, amongst passed students more than 70 % have secured C, D and E grades respectively. Major reason for this poor performance is the vacant posts of subject specialist teacher in most of the schools of the area.
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Farooq Shah, pledged to establish a university for women in Hazara division in addition to furnishing the schools with all the basic facilities within one year of his term. Aijaz Durrani took the credit for laying the foundation of the only university in the district and urged the MPAs and MNAs and bureaucrats to admit their own children in government schools so that the quality of education in these schools can also be improved.
Shazia Jadoon reiterated the promise of PML-N for increasing the education budget to 4% of GDP in the coming term. She also announced that the model of Daanish Schools in Punjab will be replicated within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well. Razia Jaffery, pledged to increase the enrolment of students to a 100% and promised to establish a technical college for women after getting elected.
Qazi Ateeq wants to discourage the political involvement in teachers’ recruitment and service. A charter of demand outlining the upgradation of schools to middle, high and higher secondary levels, improved girls schools, transportation and provision of basic facilities and science labs was presented to all the candidates who unanimously agreed to work towards improving the quality of education in Haripur.
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