Pakistan, Ghost School, education, Naeem Sahoutara, Shadi Khan Saif

It's 8 in the morning on a normal day in the Ghagar region on the outkirts of Karachi.

But, there are no studentes here... and no teachers.

The classrooms are damaged and black boards dusting. No colourful drawings inside.

40-year-old villager Muhammad Azeem Marri lives just next to the school.

But his three school-age children are missing out on an education.

“The school building has been there for the last 14 years. But the teachers never come. There are no classes. The teachers are being paid but the students are not getting taught.”

According to the official figures issued last year there are about 25,000 ghost teachers in the country.

The majority of them are in Sindh province.

Half a kilometer away, there's another government school.

It’s dirty with broken chairs and no benches for the children.

In fact there are 35 non-functional schools in this locality of 60,000 people alone.

Iqbal Gabol also lives close to the school.

His three children will start going to school in the coming years.

“Not a single teacher has been appointed here since the school was built in 2005. There’s no electricity. The building is of no use. We’ve requested many times to the Chief Minister, the Education Minister, even the President to make it functiona.. but nothing has happened.”

There are hundreds of thousands of the schools established by the government all over the country which are not functioning.

The problem is corruption and no effective monitoring system.

8-year-old Maria Ali in the village had to stop her studies in grade three.

“I want to become a teacher so I can teach others. But I can’t go to school because we don’t have one here. The teachers at the school where I used to go got fired and no new teachers were appointed.”

Early this year Pakistani Supreme Court ordered a countrywide inspection of the government-run schools to find out how many are running.



Here in southern Sindh Province, they found about 20 percent of the girls and boys government schools are non-functional or do not exist.

This is the only girls school in Ghagar. On a scorching hot morning, these girls are studying outside.

Mithal Sayal is the headmistress of the school.

“We've only four classrooms for the 450 students. There are up to 100 students in one room. There is only one toilet and both water tanks are out of order. The student and teachers bring water from their homes."

Last year the Pakistan and the Unicef established a global fund to educate all girls by 2015. 

Pakistani President made a donation of 10 million US dollars to support the global initiative in the name of Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousufzai who was shot by the Taliban for campainging for girls' education.

“So let's wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let's pick up our books and our pens; they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution; education first."

In 2010, the Pakistani government made a constitutional amendment, declaring free and compulsory primary education as fundamental right of every child.

Recently, the legislators in southern Sindh Province adopt a bill to make this a reality.

But education activists say nothing has changed.

Lal Khan Panhwar is a member of the Sindh Graduates Association.

“The politicians themselves have ruined the education sector. There is no difference in the mindset to the Taliban terrorists and our politicians. Both think the same way: they're against education."

Nisar Khuhro is the Minister for Education in Sindh province.

He defends his government record.

“There were the teachers, who got themselves transferred to other places.  But we’ve taken care of that. There will be less number of non-functional schools when the teachers return.  There is no other political reason."

But for now people are coming up with thier own solution.

Nabi Dad Nabol has set up a madressah outside a government ghost school.

Currently some 10 boys are studying – no girls here.

“They are not getting a modern education. So I thought at least we can teach them religion. But we can't teach them everything here and the students will be behind.”


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