Monday February 26, 2024

Low attendance as girls college suspends bus service

January 29, 2023

Islamabad : It's been almost three weeks since the Islamabad Model College for Girls I-8/4 resumed in-person learning after winter break, but the college buses aren't running to the inconvenience of students and their parents.

Many students haven't returned to classes after two weeks' vacation for being without transport to commute between home and the campus, teachers told 'The News'. They insisted that the college had suspended the bus service for being denied transport funds. The teachers said the college could use the Student Fund to operate buses but it chose not to do so for some inexplicable reason.

"It's simply beyond me why the [college] administration is reluctant to use the Student Fund when there're millions of rupees and rules allow their utilisation. The students have more right to the fund than anyone else after contributing to it every year in the first and second years of their intermediate course," a teacher said.

She claimed that the fund was mostly spent on "unproductive" activities instead of student welfare. The teachers also said the unavailability of buses to students had caused low attendance and learning losses. Parents, who belong to the middle and lower middle classes, resented the suspension of bus service saying neither commuting by private vans and taxicabs is affordable nor is direct transport available from most areas to the college.

"After long night duty, I've to wake up early to ride my two daughters to college in the morning and then spare time in mid-afternoon to take them home. It's quite an ordeal," said Mushtaq Ali of Khanna Pul, a locality miles away from the I-8 college. He said four students, who were forced by the suspension of bus service to use a private car to commute, had a road accident on Thursday leading to the death of two, including Minahil Abdullah of grade 5 and Aleena of grade 8, and the critical condition of the others along with their father. A fifth grader complained that her father was a vegetable vendor and couldn't afford private vans or taxis, so she skipped college three days a week.

"He [my father] uses a ride-hailing bike service to take me to school and home. Riding a small bike with two men is an excruciating experience, but I've to put up with it for learning," the 13-year-old girl told 'The News'.

She complained that skipping college frequently badly affected her studies.

Resident Kamran Ahmad also resented the suspension of bus service and said he rented a private van for her two daughters enrolled in the I-8 girls college but it was a big burden on his household expenses amid rising inflation. He also said what troubled him more was to see her daughters sit in a cramped van. "The college should put the buses back on the road without delay to the relief of both students and their parents," he said.

A widow, whose daughter is a sixth grader in the college, said she worked as domestic help, while her husband, too, had a meagre income from his small time job, so hiring private vans or taxicabs for her daughter was unaffordable for them. She demanded authorities intervene for the immediate resumption of bus service by the college.