Islamabad - Twenty-two schools of the federal capital are going to be inaugurated in the last week of this month after complete overhaul under the first phase of the Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme.
The renovation of the schools will be completed by 15th of January for inauguration by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The prime minister launched the reform programme with the up-gradation of Government Model School for Girls, Punjgran, to the level of college on December 10. Under the first phase, 23 schools, including Punjgran school, have been provided with missing facilities and are renovated to improve the learning outcomes.
The school buildings have been whitewashed, broken walls are rebuilt, CCTV cameras have been installed, blackboards are replaced with white boards, new synthetic chairs have been provided to schools, science and IT labs equipped with new equipment are made functional, new tiles are put in the bathrooms, clean drinking water and sports facilities have been ensured and class rooms have been decorated with academic material.
The renovated schools include six from city areas while 16 are situated in rural areas. The officials say they have been selected randomly by the Capital Administration and Development Division and many schools in dilapidated condition have been ignored.
According to Annual Status of Education Report 2015, about 50 percent primary schools in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) are without boundary walls, 34 percent schools lack useable water facility and only 84 percent are without libraries. About learning levels, the report says 67 percent children of class-III cannot read Urdu story and 63 percent cannot read class-II level English sentences. 
In the next phase the government has planned to renovate all 422 schools and colleges in Islamabad Capital Territory working under the Federal Director of Education (FDE). The schools would also be provided a fleet of 200 extra buses. Besides, improving physical infrastructure the programme also includes installing monitoring mechanisms and teachers’ trainings and refresher courses to improve the quality of education.
“To improve access to quality education, trainings modules are being prepared and third party has been involved in the exercise,” said Director General FDE Moin Uddin Wani. “Monitoring mechanisms including biometric and smart phone-based systems are being installed to ensure the attendance of the teachers,” he said. According to officials, the renovation has been costing Rs 8 to 10 million per school depending upon the size and condition of the building of the school. The first ever whole reform programme would cost about over a billion rupees that would be completed in the next two years. Officials say the prime minister has ensured the smooth flow of money for the programme even if exceeds the estimates.
Minister of State for CA&DD Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary has proudly stated on many occasions that prime minister’s education transformation plan for Islamabad is to a role model for the whole country.
“It is an excellent step towards enforcement of article 25-A of constitution to provide free and quality school education,” said Baela Raza Jamil, Trustee/Advisor at Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA).
The best thing is that a mixed approach has been adopted for reforms and the PM has asked to adopt the best model and curriculum whether it is published by National Book Foundation or Oxford, she said.
But the momentum must be sustained and the work should not be left in the middle, she added stressing the provinces should also replicate this model in their territories.
The initiative is also welcomed by a number of schoolteachers and lecturers with some pronouncing that the role model needs competent teachers. Only financially sound teachers and adherence to merit policy can make such an initiative successful, said a teacher.
Teachers who are the largest stakeholders have not been involved in the programme, said Azhar Awan, President of Federal Government Teachers Association. While lauding the programme he said no matter how good an initiative is, it can’t be successful until or unless teachers are involved and appeased.
“Over 2,000 teachers have been protesting for over 60 days for their job regularisation and release of salaries. The 20 percent raise in salaries that all federal government employees enjoy have not been given to teachers,” he said. He further said that such reforms can improve learning only if the teachers are happy.