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Islamia High School loses land to influentials

RAWALPINDI, Sep 10: Influential local people have been encroaching on the land of the Islamia High School No 1 located near Liaqat Bagh. The school, which had been established by the Anjuman-e-Islamia, a welfare organisation, in 1989, has shrunk in size after its nationalisation as people have built houses and started commercial activities on its land.

It was nationalised in 1972 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had decided to nationalise all the schools in private ownership in the country. In 1989 it was upgraded and became a higher secondary school.

The senior teachers of the school confided that according to the school records the original land of the school was 85 kanals, which had been reduced to 18 kanals. Saghir Alam, a senior teacher, said the school was constructed with donations from local people therefore Anjuman-e-Islamia dedicated it to the people of Rawalpindi.

He said that after the nationalisation, not only had the local people constructed houses on its land, but the education standard had also gone down. He said, "After the nationalisation it had become government property therefore it is the government's responsibility to take action against encroachers."

The executive district officer (Education) said that the cases of Islamia No 1 and other schools, whose lands had been encroached upon, were in court and the government had appointed a lawyer to pursue them.

In the 2001 flood the two blocks of the school were destroyed as cracks had appeared in the roof and walls, while the floor had sunk. After one week of flooding when the water had receded a team from the Punjab Provincial Education Board visited the school and estimated that Rs 2.2 million were required for its reconstruction. There were no follow-up visits and no funds were allocated to begin the work.

Deputy Headmaster Saifur Rehman said that many officials of the provincial and district education boards had inspected the school and the damaged blocks but did not provide money for its reconstruction.

He said that every year the money they received under the Maintenance and Reconstruct (M&R) from the district government was insufficient. He said, "We are planning to contact philanthropists and donor organisations to give us money for reconstruction of the building." The school is historically significant, as before the partition of the Subcontinent both Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal had visited it. The EDO (Education) said that every year they received Rs 14 million for the maintenance of secondary schools, which was distributed among the 267 schools on a need basis.

A teacher said that there was a time when the Islamia High School No 1 was one of the best schools in Rawalpindi and students due to its popularity used to come from far flung areas. But now despite the fact that the students were provided with free books and there were no admission and tuition fees, few students chose to study there.

He said that about two decades ago there were four sections of almost every class from one to 10, but now there was only one section. Daily times
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