Another Pakistani ‘innovation’

Pakistan may not have the world’s best university but it sure has succeeded in coming up with the world’s best ‘innovations’ over the years. Roofless cars have become very common, which is why Pakistanis have come up with another innovation – roofless schools. The authorities in Pakistan do not believe in wasting money on providing rooftops to children when they are studying, instead they would rather that money be diverted to the elected representatives’ bank accounts. According to a report published in this newspaper, hundreds of primary school children are being forced to study in roofless classrooms of the Government Primary School in Hammad Colony, Lahore. Imagine a child trying to study in a roofless classroom in extreme weather conditions in the summer, winter and monsoon season. This is not just ridiculous but highly irresponsible on the part of the concerned authorities.

The school in question is situated in the constituency of Hamza Shahbaz, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. To add insult to injury, the constituency’s MPA Shahbaz Gujjar, also from the PML-N, has mysteriously disappeared from the scene after receiving Rs 2.5 million to reconstruct the school. What is happening to this school shows us clearly how much priority our leaders give to education and the welfare of children. No society is able to progress without education. In Pakistan the literacy rate is already quite low. By not providing a proper place to study, those handful of children who manage to go to schools will either give up on education altogether or not be able to capitalise on what they are studying due to the abominable condition of the school.

There is a structural problem in the system that needs to be fixed. General Ziaul Haq introduced the system of giving development funds to the MNAs and MPAs. He did this to consolidate his support amongst the opportunist political class. By doing this, he also depoliticised the elected representatives by reducing them virtually to the level of local councillors charged with the issues of providing services. It is time that we go back to the pre-Zia system where the elected representatives come up with their recommended schemes but the government machinery and departments handle those development funds and projects. It is high time that we get our priorities straight and fix the system.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


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