Scores of our government schools in Rawalpindi are facing many kind of problems, plagued by filled to capacity classrooms, textbook scarcity, dismal amenities, and insufficient skilled teachers. Private schools are no exception.
At some high schools, only about one third of senior teachers are experienced. Then there is the gigantic task of teaching so many students. Undeniably, education is a vital element of a habitable society. The quality of schools is often an important factor that decides where a family, particularly one with children, will choose to reside. The worsening of many schools in older part of the city is often mentioned as one of the main grounds for families to move to the suburbs. At the same time, over the past decades schools have grown in size but have lost their role as area centres.
Modern trends in the size and site of schools have led families away from area government schools, which are small, toward large private schools often situated along busy streets.
Although thoughts promoting larger private schools took hold decades ago, inclination toward schools in far-flung, disconnected locales on the urban fringe have been pressed by the department of education that set minimum building standards for schools. Lost in this process has been students’ ability to walk or bicycle to area government schools.
Also lost is the opportunity for the area residents to use their playing fields and other facilities in off hours. Even the quality of education suffers. Experience has shown that the trend toward larger schools is counter-productive. Students perform better in smaller schools where they can more easily develop bond with faculty and classmates. Significantly, the impact of poverty is appreciably reduced when children attend small schools.
The bigger the school, the more likely poor students are to be sidelined. The number of government schools has not kept pace with population growth. The quality private schools are normally situated away from society centres, with vans seen as the only means of transport. The scenario gets much worse by traffic jams. Even children who live near schools face traffic hazards because of busy access road, the sidewalks occupied by parked vehicles and other hurdles.
Plans like safe routes to school as executed by our foreign counterparts can improve this situation by funding infrastructure improvements on routes that link neighbourhoods to schools. Along with a movement for quality smaller schools pains must be taken to build government schools that become centres of activity for area dwellers, where the school yards and auditoriums can be used by them. Such efforts can prove successful if the education department and district administration coordinate. Locating schools in central places also requires local authorities’ coordination.