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   May  29, 2014



Cleanliness Highlighted as the Biggest Issue in Schools in Chitral!

School facilities are vital tools in the teaching and learning process, therefore, it is imperative of all educational institutions to adequately provide and manage those facilities. Facilities may be divided as instructional, recreational, residential and general-purpose. A school without having the minimum required facilities, may not, first of all, be allowed to start functioning, if rule of law existed. And once properly established, the facilities can be maintained through regular, emergency or prevention and periodic maintenance. However, as suggested by a survey conducted by the Ispru Youth Forum Chitral (IYFC), it has unfortunately been observed that school facilities in Chitral are neither adequately provided nor the existing facilities are properly maintained.

The survey results, collected through questionnaires, and a focus group of students, from 25 schools and colleges all over Chitral, that are run by both the private and public sector, depict an unfortunate state of affairs. Dilapidated school buildings, non-existent libraries and laboratories, lack of playgrounds or indoor games facilities, computers, rest area or even toilet facilities are the issues faced by students of all ages. 57 percent students believe they do not have a proper school building or the building exists in a deteriorating state, ready to come down any time, nested by birds and insects, subject to wear and tear of weather, made worse by students who consider this their play land. 73 percent schools, the students reveal, do not have a science lab, 75 percent do not have a library or computer lab or have it properly equipped. To add to it, an astonishing 85 percent schools or colleges do not have a playground and 83 percent do not have a cafeteria. Another important factor is the availability of qualified and trained teachers, who, 65% students believe are not available in their schools. While these are the views of the students; an independent expert survey, it can be inferred, may reveal less than 20 percent of the teachers to be qualified or properly trained.


However, the highlight of the survey is the extremely poor condition of hygiene and sanitation. 85 percent students complain about availability of drinking water while a massive 92 percent of the students say there is either an inadequate availability of toilet facilities in schools or the facilities that are available are  not properly cleaned.

In most schools in Chitral, when you talk to the students it becomes evident that both the girls and boys are faced with poor facilities, inadequate water for washing, lack of soap, no privacy and non-functioning or insufficient toilets. This must definitely reduce school attendance, especially the attendance of girls who are in their teenage. And being absent directly effects their motivation and performance. The IYFC survey report of educational institutions across Chitral has found that one in nine school-age girls do not attend school, at least twice a month, because of inadequate washroom facilities.

As remarked by a student;

“The kids from grade one and the graduate level college kids (sarcastic remark), numbering to over 700 rely on two toilet facilities which look more like torture cells than toilet facilities. A non-ending line of kids, some of them crying while others about to lose their patience in silence; creates a seriously disturbing scenario. And that is but the daily routine, unfortunately!”

This scenario is perturbing, to the parents of the school goers, if not to the school authorities or the government body who must keep a check and ensure adequate availability of resources. Water, sanitation and hygiene have the potential to prevent at least 9.1% of the global disease burden and 6.3% of all deaths (Prüss-Üstün et al, 2008). World Health Organization and UNICEF have established that improved sanitation could save the lives of 1.5 million children per year who would otherwise succumb to diarrheal diseases (WHO and UNICEF, 2008). More to it, improved water sources reduce diarrhea morbidity by 21% and improved sanitation reduces diarrhea morbidity by 37.5%. And this must be an eye opener that the simple act of washing hands at critical times can reduce the number of diarrhea cases by as much as 37%.

So who, if any one, may rise to the situation and save the future leaders? The Government, Community Leadership, NGOs, Youth Organizations, Schools’ Leadership, University students or parents of the school going kids? Well, any of them may contribute to make things slightly better but all of them, hand in hand, may bring a transformation and help save the future generations.

It is time to realize there are simple issues and they are big!


Ahmed Hasan.


mail @ chitraltimes@gmail.com

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