Bannu: North Waziristan: The district administration of Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan Tribal District, has issued a notification that the building of the Government Girls’ Degree College, Miranshah, will be used as judicial complex until its own building is constructed. How much time the construction of the judicial complex will take is not specified. The decision has shocked the local community, sending a wave of distress and anxiety among the parents of girl students.
“What does it mean?” said a local man, whose daughter studies in the college.
“Does the administration deliberately intend to deprive our girls of their basic right of education or they think that judicial complex is more important than the college?”
The college is the only college for girls in the area with a population of more than 1.5 million. According to the college record, only 105 girl students have been enrolled in the college but their attendance is almost zero.
A high-level official at the college told Truth Tracker that there were multiple reasons for students’ lack of interest in their studies, and of them the main reason was their hard accessibility to the college.
“Tochi Model School Building where the college is currently functioning in is located at a long distance in the red zone of the Cantonment area and it is very difficult for the girls to reach there,” said the official, adding that not only access but also there were residential issues for the staff and the students. The official added that the only solution to resolve these issues was that the college be shifted to its own building.
The strange decision of the local administration of shifting the judicial complex to the girl’s college building came at a time when most of the girls have left their education after repatriation to their homeland after the Zarb-i-Azb.
“We have announced the time and again that the students come and attend the college but all in vain,” said a teacher of the college.
She opined that the fresh decision of converting the college building into the judicial complex will be fatal to the already deteriorated state of girls’ education in the war-torn area of North Waziristan.
When contacted a high-level official at the district headquarter Miranshah, on the condition of anonymity, said that the college was fully functional in another building and the shifting process was not permanent as once the building for judicial complex get completed, the college building will be handed over to the college itself.
“We know the importance of education in the area but there has also been a lot of pressure on the local administration to accommodate judicial staff on urgent basis and we had no other option but only this,” said the official, adding that the deputy commissioner was dubbed as anti-merger and we could not afford any kind of delay in the merger process.
When asked how much time the judicial complex will take to complete, the official said, “It is up to the provincial government as to when and how it fulfils the task of completion.”
Meanwhile, authorities at Fata secretariat are totally unaware of the conversion of college building into the judicial complex.
“We were neither consulted nor conveyed about the decision,” said Laiq Afridi, who also revealed that all the colleges were now under the charge of the Higher Education Department, while the Fata Education had nothing to do with colleges as per merger rules.
But the question remains unanswered that despite of the loud claims of the government and even declaring educational emergency in the tribal areas, was judicial complex more important than the education?
Social activist from North Waziristan Dr Hashim Khan Dawar says that the local administration did it to please the provincial government and to show their loyalty for the merger process.
“Bureaucracy has nothing to do with the concern of the people. They just want to show that they are active for the directives of the government no matter what price the people may have to pay for it,” Dawar added.
There are nine high schools in North Waziristan for girls and only one college in Miranshah for the rest of the girl students of Waziristan.
“People of the area are strict in their religious and cultural affiliations and are hardly willing to send their girls to schools near to their homes; how will they send them to a college that is located kilometers away from their homes?” said Dr Hashim, adding that if the only college was also located in an area where access is quite difficult, most of the girls will quit their education.
Talking to Truth Tracker, Ahmad Shah said he was a poor man earning his livelihood by driving a pick-up and he was unable to afford to send his daughter to the college by spending more than Rs100 per day on her pick and drop.
“My daughter passed SSC exam obtaining first division but I cannot afford her higher education,” Shah added.
This is not the only story of Ahmad Shah rather many parents want to send their girls to college but they live in far-flung areas and cannot afford transportation charges.
“Government should take the issue seriously and must provide colleges at Mirali and Razmak Sub Divisions as well if it is serious for education in real.” Said Asif Raza Dawar, student of Computer Science at Agriculture University Peshawar.
“I am really shocked to hear about the decision of the administration to give the girls college building to the judicial complex which is not as important as the college,” Asif said and added that the area was already lacking acutely in girls’ education.
Another social activist Anwar Sadat said that the decision of the local administration would ruin the female education in the area that has a shameful literacy rate of less than 3%.
“It seems to me that they (The government) don’t want tribal girls to get aware like the male students and raise voices for their rights.” Anwar opined adding it was nothing but a well-hatched plan of the rulers to sabotage the girl’s education at a higher level.