Islamabad - In a country where education for all is still a dream on the grounds, the quality of education being provided in rural areas at primary level becomes more significant.

It is also not less than a miracle that the children are being bejewelled with this basic right in far rural areas. Such a primary school is situated around 45 kilometres northwest of Islamabad, on the boundary of district Rawalpindi in the village called Nikoo. The school was established before partition in 1901; however, its level has not risen from ‘primary’ yet.

Headmaster Arshad Mehmood along with two other staff members is running this school. The strength of the students, after the merging of boys and girls campuses, has become 88, while the classes from grade one to five have been divided into six sections.

“We have a fifty percent ratio of girls in our school and trying to give our best, but everything is not possible to achieve in the budget of Rs 20,000 only,” said the headmaster.

He said most of the students enrolled in this school are from very poor families and it is difficult for them to produce outstanding results. “Students cannot afford uniforms and many of them graze animals in the fields after school timings,” said Arshad Mehmood.

The provincial government has always vocally advocated its efforts of bringing reforms in the primary level education to pull the students towards the government schools.

In this regard, it has not only switched the medium of teaching from Urdu to English language, but is also providing books free of cost to the students.  However, such measures have also not produced very impressive results in increasing the number of students in the rural areas.

Sajjad Changezi, an expert on education from the Alif Ailaan organisation, while talking to The Nation said that the budget allocation for primary level education is not satisfactory to provide quality education. “Merging of girls and boys school in rural areas could be a better decision for the government by means of controlling its budget, but it raised social problems also, as in some conservative areas parents are reluctant to send their daughters in such schools,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mehmood Ali Khan, a resident of the village said that he got admitted his children in the school of nearby city Wah, because he was not satisfied with the quality of education being provided in the government school. “People get their children admitted in the village’s government school because it is difficult and not affordable for them to send their offspring to city for education,” added Mehmood.

On the other side, school headmaster stated, “We have qualified staff with master level education teaching students science and arts subjects.” He said the school administration works seriously to ensure the attendance of students and teachers in the school, while the government’s monitoring teams also pay surprise visits to keep check on the performance of the school.

But Mumtaz Ali, a labourer whose four children are enrolled in the school, is not satisfied with the education standard of the school.

According to him, teachers are although present in the school, yet they are less interested to pay attention to the students and that is why most of the students every year fail in their annual examinations.

“My own son didn’t pass his exam last year, but was promoted to the next class and I don’t know how? said Mumtaz. He said parents of students reading in this village school are uneducated and unable to guide their children, but the problem is that teachers have also failed in improving the results.

Education officer Akhtar Hussain told The Nation that department is strictly following the policy of government to provide standard education in rural areas of the tehsil. “Schools monitoring report is sent to the chief minister office on daily basis and we cannot show negligence at any part,” said Hussain. He also said that most of the students pass the exam every year and very few are detained because of poor academic performance.

For Arshad Mehmood, parents of the students are responsible for the poor academic performance of the students. But for Mumtaz Ali, the children of the poor people are not dumb at all but they are not the priority of the government. “Our children can also join prestigious professions if they are given due importance and good education in their homes,” added Mumtaz.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.

Rahul basharat