Laborers work at a construction site of one of the 50 schools being gifted by the Chinese government to the children in Khyber district of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, July 5, 2021. (Photo by Saeed Ahmad/Xinhua)
by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Sharafat Afridi, father of three daughters in Khyber district of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, eagerly awaits the completion of 50 schools being gifted by the Chinese government to the children in his district to restart their education by getting back to school.
Khyber district is part of the erstwhile terrorism-marred tribal region of the country that had suffered the menace of terrorism for over a decade until the situation improved in recent years.
The poor security in the province has taken a toll on the educational system, and many children in the area either do not get quality education or are out of school due to lack of educational institutes.
"Terrorism hit us really hard, we lost our business and peace, but it was my daughters' education which suffered the most. My eldest two daughters were in their early primary years in 2015, and one morning when they went to attend their school, the building was no longer there because it was blasted by militants," Afridi told Xinhua.
However, he said his daughters, who did not lose hope by continuing their learning at home temporarily, later attended a school far away from their house regardless of trouble and harsh weather conditions during winter.
"My youngest daughter is of school age now and she will start her early years at school soon. We are so happy that she will be able to study in a new school constructed near my home."
According to data compiled by the provincial government, over 1,000 girls' schools were attacked in the previous tribal agencies till 2015, out of which 555 were completely destroyed.
Talking to Xinhua, Muhammad Humayun, sub-divisional officer of the building division in Khyber district, said the government has rehabilitated 895 damaged schools and some of the schools being built with the Chinese donation also include those earlier destroyed.
"There are no good schools in the area. The available schools are very small with two classrooms for primary section and no more than four for middle section. They are far away from each other and are overcrowded with students," he said.
The schools being built with Chinese donation are bigger and better, Humayun said. "Most of the new schools have six rooms for primary and 10 for middle section, giving a pleasant environment for kids who have seen unrest in the region since their birth to breathe in a peaceful environment and get quality education."
Muhammad Rafique Tahir, joint educational advisor at the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, said, "The number of out-of-school children is increasing in tribal areas due to unavailability of schools," noting that the Chinese government donation "is a big help for the Pakistani government, and a great gift to the people of the tribal district." Enditem