BAJAUR AGENCY - Lack of education facilities was discouraging the female students of Bajaur Agency to continue education. According to details, a large number of girls’ students quit education after passing primary school every year owing to non-availability of middle and secondary education facilities in their areas, residents and sources in the education department said on Saturday.

They claimed that lack of higher education facilities is a major constraint for the female students of Bajaur Agency to further continue their education. They added that at least 10,000 female students had quit their studies after passing Grade-5 during the past couple of years due to the lack of education facilities in their areas.

Sources said that the condition of female education in Bajaur Agency was very miserable and this was obvious from the fact that there were only 20 middle and 8 high schools for a population of 5,36,520 females while the total population of Bajaur Agency according to 2017 census report is 10,93,684. So, female concludes 49.056 percent of the total population of the agency while they are having only 32.57 percent of institutions for female, as there are 617 educational institutes, out of which 416 are for males and 201 are for females.

The sources described that there are 172 primary schools in which 85-57 percent are primary level schools while only 14-43 percent are middle and high-level institutions.

Residents told The Nation that they are eager for education and especially for female education, but according to them, lack of facilities has posed hurdles in their way. The area people and sources also disclosed that most of the state-run female educational institutions in the agency are either built at non-feasible locations or lack the teachers and others facilities so the girls of those areas cannot benefit from those schools.

A survey by The Nation has also shown that majority of educational institutions in the agency both boys and girls were lacking basic amenities like proper shelters, boundary walls, toilets, drinking water and furniture, causing the students inconvenience. Residents of the agency, especially those living in rural areas said that they were depressed due to lack of female education facilities in the region in general and middle and secondary level in particular.

They stated that their girls have great desire and enthusiasm to get the education and play a significant role to contribute to society but the dream of their girls has not been materialized owing to the lack of educational facilities in their areas.

Ikram Khan, a resident of Mamond Tehsil said that his daughter was very keen for education and wanted to become a doctor, but unfortunately, lack of education facilities has perished her dream. A number of girl’s students, who have recently quit education, have shown regrets for not completing higher studies owing to lack of higher education facilities in the region.

Anbreen, a resident of Salarzai tehsil told that she wished to become a teacher after passing Grade-10 but she was unable to continue her education due to the absence of high school in the region.  “I wanted to become a teacher to work for the promotion of girls’ education in our area because our region is very backward and has no facility for girl’s education and the absence of high school forced me to stop my studies after passing Grade-8,” she added.  A 15-year-old Nailam, hailing from Mamond tehsil told that she wishes to get admission in the Government Girls High School in Khar, the main town of agency after passing Grade-8 from the Government Middle School Barkholozo, the lone government-run middle school for females in the entire region, but her family refused to allow her to go to far-flung area despite many requests.

Bajaur Agency is having very conservative culture and the females out of home is not considered right thus a number of students complained that they were facing a lot of problems while attending schools out of their areas.

“We feel fear while going to school out of our area and some time the boys use insulting language against us when they see us on the roads,” said Sobia, a girl of Sadiqabad town in Khar tehsil.

Assistant Agency Education Officer Bajaur, Hamid Ullah Jan when contacted admitted that the condition of education in the agency, especially female education, is very poor due to the lack of schools, teachers, and others facilities.

He said that the number of middle schools for boys is 35 while the numbers of middle schools for the girls are 20.

He informed that there are 33 high schools for boys and only eight high schools for girls in the entire agency, saying that these schools are too little to meet the needs of girls in the region.

He said that there are nine higher secondary educational institutions for boys in the agency among them three were degree colleges and one post-graduate college. But on the other hand, the official told that there is the only one-degree college for girls in the entire agency, located in Khar, the headquarters of the agency.

He said that the total number of students in the agency is 170,000 in which 120,000 are boys while 55,000 are girls.

About the total number of the teacher in the agency, the official told that there are 1617 teachers in the region, out of which 1055 are males while 562 are female teachers.

According to him, overall there is one teacher per 105.13 students, in male student/teacher ratio, it is 142.18 while in female this ratio is 97.86.  Jan also revealed that no new school has been established in the agency since 2007; however, he claimed that total 111 educational institutions, most of them female which was destroyed by the militants, have been reconstructed.

Referring to the need of new educational institutions in the agency, the official told that there is an intense necessitate of several more schools in the region, especially middle and high school for girls so they could continue further education without any problem.

The official also admitted that a large number of girl’s students are being deprived of admissions in the middle and high schools every year due to lack of schools.

He also expressed fear that numerous girls’ students of the agency would be unable to get the secondary education if a number of more high schools are not established immediately.

Answering a question, Jan said that there are at least 111 villages in the agency where there is no school for both boys and girls.

When asked about the lack of basic facilities in the schools, the official admitted that there are a number of schools, which had been running out of facilities including the boundary walls, toilets, and drinking water.

However, he claimed that the department has planned to provide basic facilities to more than 1000 schools in the next ADP including boundary walls, toilets, and drinking water. He further added that the department has also decided to put at least 100 schools on the solar power in next fiscal year.