IT is a strange juxta-position. Two stories printed on the same day in this paper point to the anomaly in the education sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas. In one report, the ANP-led government of the province — no doubt with an eye on the elections — has proclaimed its achievements in the field of education during its tenure. Below this is a story which says that in Mohmand Agency, only six out of the 112 schools targeted by militants have been rebuilt. Fears of kidnapping, especially of female teachers, have also adversely affec-ted educational activities in the agency. More schools have been destroyed by militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa than in Fata; government figures show that around 750 schools have been blown up in the province since militancy gained ground over the past few years. Floods damaged another 1,700 schools.
There are two distinct areas that need attention in order to improve Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s educational system. The first is a purely academic and administrative problem. The ANP has made some impressive claims regarding its improvement of the education sector; these include raising the provincial literacy rate by seven per cent to an overall 56 per cent, as well as recruiting teachers, building more colleges and universities and raising enrolment rates. Yet while there have been improvements in the province’s educational infrastructure, the administration of schools leaves much to be desired. Hence perhaps the focus should be on quality rather than numbers. The second issue is that of security. While the government builds and rebuilds schools, militants keep destroying them. It is simply not possible to protect every school by posting security men outside them. Besides, there’s little a watchman or police officer can do when a group of militants show up and decide to blow up a school. The issue is a much larger one — that of improving security in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata by uprooting militancy. That is something the administration and security apparatus need to handle. Unless the environment is secure, the students of the province and Fata will be unable to realise their full potential.