KARACHI: Hijrat Colony, a densely populated slum, located in the red zone area of the metropolis, where most of the parents are compelled to send their children in religious seminaries (Madaris) due to the lack of state-run schools and quality education, Daily Times has learnt.
Since, most of the public schools were built when the colony was small in size, but latter, when population grew up, government didn't bother to increase the number of public schools, therefore, the existing schools do not meet the requirement of the growing population.
"The conditions of the exiting state-run schools are not good," said renowned right based activist and human rights defender Abubakkar Yousafzai, adding that the government teachers are not attending the schools on regular basis and also there are no basic facilities such as toilets, drinking water and cleanness and even electricity and furniture, therefore the parents prefer not to enroll their children in public schools. "Since most of the people are poor and they cannot afford private schools' fee, they are taking their children to the traditional religious seminaries", added Yousafzai.
Yousafzai recently conducted a detailed study of the area that found that once there was a Home Schools Program initiated by a Non Government Organization (NGO) but the parent didn't take interest to send their young girls in those home schools. "Thus, the Home Schools Program failed to achieve its objectives of educating the children of the area", the research revealed.
Despite, around five government schools functioning in the area, there is no higher and secondary school out of these existed schools. "The children are suffering from a real problem due to the absence of a quality education in government schools. The government schools are in horrible condition where educational activities are not likely to be conducted", Yousufzai added.
Apart from this, the parents are unable to pay for private education. "We encourage them to partake in uplifting education for the bright future of their children", said Nazish, a teacher of Muhammad Khan Junejo Primary Schools, adding that if the parents trusted the government schools it might be the children get education in better educational institutions later. The irony is that the parents don't take any interest in enrolling children in government schools.
She pointed out that neither the people of the area believe in government-run schools nor they afford private schools resulting that they finally searching for a seminaries to get their children enrolled. On the other hand, traditional seminaries are popping up in the locality where thousands of the underprivileged students are forced to get enrolled.
"I have initiated a non-formal education center 'Elm Ki Roshni' where some of the girl students were enrolled. But all the children seeking admission cannot be accommodated in such small centre," said Falak Naz, Councilor of the area.
"I wished for the children that they get quality education and also understand the importance of education and live a better life", she said.
Pakhtoons, Punjabi, Saraiki and other communities of the colony live in harmony. Majority of the inhabitants belong to the lower income class. They're mostly migrants from the different parts of Pakistan.
However, the parents still believe in traditional educational and are conservative about their social norms. A common perception of the parents especially for girls is that once their children get modern education they will challenge their traditions and norms.
Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2017.