State school crisis and the madrassas
Daily Times, August 8, 2007
The minister of state for education, Ms Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, has revealed that as many as 70,000 schools in the country are without the basic facilities of water, electricity, lavatories and boundary walls. She vowed that the government was girding up to set the schools right, to say nothing of the need to open new schools in areas where the private sector will not go.
There are 247,000 state-owned schools in the country where 33 million children are being taught by 1.5 million teachers. About 40 percent of the children drop out before finishing the primary school. And numbers will not tell the true story. According to the above statistic, every teacher in the government school should have a class of less than 33 children. But the truth is that some schools are overcrowded and a large number of them have very few children. In most primary schools in the countryside one teacher presides over three classes where there should be five classes. No schools are residential in the countryside where the parents can’t afford to feed their children. On the other hand, the clergy, flush with money and armed with the power of intimidation, have opened residential madrassas with free boarding and lodging. The government has the money to match the mullah power but is abysmal in service delivery. The problem is that in the past when one has pushed the state to do something, it has simply set up “ghost schools” to feed the files. *