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Schools in chaos in Pakistan fighting zone

Schools have been hit so hard by conflict in Pakistan, parents fear for their child’s future.Education in the Swat region, where Taliban militants have destroyed 356 schools has been left in turmoil, without funding and huge repairs are needed. Pakistan’s army has been fighting Taliban militants in parts of northern Pakistan since 2004. The Swat Valley was the site of a major military push to drive out Taliban militants last spring and the area has been mostly peaceful since then. Now, a year later, the children are back in school, but the education system is still in chaos, say officials.

“My son’s school was badly damaged in 2009 by fire,” said Imdad Hassan, 40, from Kabal in Swat. “Now the children sit outdoors, or on the floors of gutted classrooms that lack walls or roofs, he told the United Nations news service, IRIN. Many schools are running in a similar way to how they did after they were re-opened last year, he said. “The sight of the bombed-out school buildings scares my daughters,” said Dilbahar Bibi, who has three school age daughters. “They don’t like to go there. In private schools such as the one they attend, some of the teachers have not returned either, preferring to stay away from Swat or give up work,” “The school infrastructure has been badly damaged. Records have been destroyed and many buildings are in ruins,” said Ibrash Pasha, who works in Dir district with the local aid organisation, Khwendo Kor, which sets up schools for girls. He said parents were desperate to educate children but were hampered by the slow effort to restore buildings.
There is also a risk that 19,000 homeless children may be affected by a lack of money to run schools at camps for people uprooted by the conflict. More than half (60 per cent) of the 1.3 million people still left homeless by conflict in  the area are children, according to figures from the United Nations Children’s fund, UNICEF.But only six per cent of the $1.4 million (about £1m) UNICEF had asked for to teach children in camps for homeless families has found its way to the aid organisation. The short fall could mean schools in the camps have to close within the next week.“At present we only have funding to support primary schools in one camp, Jalozai, benefiting 5,000 children, till the end of the year,” said Pirkko Heinonen, UNICEF’s representative for Pakistan.

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