Sixteen years after a deadly earthquake hit Hazara Division on October 8, 2005, the reconstruction of around 3,700 schools remains a distant dream despite the allocation of Rs20 billion by the federal and provincial governments.
These structures even today remind us of the magnitude of destruction the earthquake brought to the area and its residents. Thousands of people lost their lives within hours and the entire villages were eliminated along with their population.
Around 300 schools in Swat, 87 in Peshawar and 3,700 schools in Abbottabad, Balakot, Bakrial and other parts of Hazara Division were completely destroyed.
The federal government formed the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) which was assigned the task of rebuilding houses as well as school buildings but the task of building schools is far from over despite the passage of one and a half decade.
Read Earthquake survivors relive trauma of 2005 disaster
“The schools destroyed in the villages 16 years ago are yet to be constructed completely despite the tall claims of the provincial and federal governments,” claimed a school teacher, adding that this had impacted the education activities in the area.
“You know 16 years is a long time. One generation has been lost because of this negligence,” he said, adding that the rich could send their children to private schools but the poor and middle classes are not that lucky.
As per the Elementary and Secondary Education Department most of the schools were destroyed in Balakot and its surroundings. The department claims that ERRA has constructed 1,939 schools so far at a cost of Rs10.7 billion.
In 2020, ERRA handed over the responsibility of constructing 608 schools to the K-P government and the provincial government allocated Rs7.79 billion for the purpose but only 150 of them have been completed so far. Next year Rs6.71 billion were allocated for the purpose in the budget.
When contacted Education Minister Shahram Tarakai told The Express Tribune that the provincial government was working on the reconstruction of school buildings across the province at a rapid pace and the schools in Balakot will also be constructed soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2021.