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Pakistan's Ghost Schools

Ghost schools are non-functioning schools that exist on paper but are never open. These schools were either declared as existing but never built in the first place, or they were closed for teachers and students - therefore serving no purpose. There are around 30,000 such schools all over Pakistan.

In Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal regions, out of the 6000 government schools, more than 2,300 are non-functioning or have been shut down. In the past, there has been a surge of internally displaced people due to continuous conflict and sectarian violence in FATA. Pakistan's government claims that conditions have been improved for residents through restoration of peace. However, those long-displaced people returning to their homes face a very different reality. In addition to poor health care systems and infrastructure, they are faced with a shortage of open schools. Locals argue that Taliban bombed a lot of schools in the region, the government re-constructed some of them, but most of them never re-opened.

Educational activists in these areas believe that while providing security through military operations is essential to take down militant groups and restore peace, quality education is even more important to resist Taliban forces and their agendas. In fragile regions like FATA, lack of education gives rise to further instability and extremism.

The plague of ghost schools is not limited to tribal regions in Pakistan, with 7,000 such schools existing throughout Sindh. The poor and violence-stricken neighborhood of Lyari in Karachi has been struggling with keeping schools open. Apart from violence in the region, constant government neglect, mismanagement, and corruption have been root causes of this issue. Lack of proper school infrastructure, poor learning environment, excessive teacher absenteeism, and constant threats from drug addicts in the region - all have led to alarmingly low enrollment and retention rates.

Let's talk

What do you think are some necessary interventions that the government needs to take in the case of schools in FATA and Lyari?

Have you ever seen a ghost school in your region? If yes, why was that school closed down? Was it ever re-opened?

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