KARACHI: In Sindh, 100,000 students leave school in the first month every year due to the absence of basic facilities such as water and sanitation admitted the provincial education department’s secretary, Dr Iqbal Hussain Durrani, before the judicial commission.
Filing a preliminary report on the quality of drinking water in schools, the secretary showed a breakup of schools based on whether water was available or not. He highlighted the agencies responsible for providing water to the schools.
In Karachi’s District Central there are some schools where only two students are studying, the secretary disclosed.
However, Durrani admitted that no value addition was done to improve either the quality of water or its availability in the schools by the education department. He said that 4,000 schools had been surveyed so far and assured that facilities like electricity, drinking water, classrooms and washrooms will be provided.
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He said in the report that it was essentially the job of the public health engineering or the local government department to look into this issue and provide water to the schools and colleges in rural and urban areas. Yet the education department had prepared a comprehensive plan based on two phases for providing all facilities, including drinking water to the schools, he maintained.
The secretary mentioned that all directors of school education had been directed to carry out laboratory tests of drinking water being supplied to the schools.
He added that the director-general of monitoring and evaluation had been mandated to inspect schools randomly twice a month to improve attendance of teaching and ancillary staff and check water quality and sanitation.
The secretary said an important meeting with the relevant engineers and others concerned had been convened on Monday when the issue in its entirety will be discussed to devise schemes for improving workability of the prevalent system for providing water and maintaining sanitation conditions at the schools.
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According to him, the result of the meeting with a progress report will be submitted to the commission on the next date. The commission observed that the secretary’s report “clearly suggests that the problem of water quality and even its availability in many schools was not only perennial but was widespread and deep-rooted. And this problems is not being addressed with the rigor and effort expected in such a situation.”
The commission ordered that the issue be discussed thoroughly on the next date of the hearing when the education secretary will apprise the commission about efforts being made to improve quality of water and sanitation in the schools and colleges all over Sindh.