Peshawar education board exempts children of terror victims from fees

By Muhammad Shakil

Students and parents stand in front of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education building in Peshawar February 8. [Muhammad Shakil]

Students and parents stand in front of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education building in Peshawar February 8. [Muhammad Shakil]

PESHAWAR -- The children of security personnel killed in the war on terror, civilian victims of terrorism and those disabled by terrorism will now be exempt from education fees, according to the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Peshawar.

The decision, which applies to residents of the area served by BISE Peshawar, was announced in January.

"Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province was confronted with an unusual situation for a long period due to the war on militancy that required a more exceptional approach and more attention from our part," BISE Peshawar Chairman Fazlur Rahman told Pakistan Forward February 8.

"Turmoil and uncertainty endured by students ... moved the board to decide on something tangible for the children of those affected by militancy," he said.

The board agreed that aiding such children was a way to acknowledge their parents' contributions and to free them from financial worries, he said.

The reform speaks of the board's resolve to express solidarity with the families of martyrs and to share their burden, Rahman said.

It will hopefully encourage students to "reciprocate the same gesture of goodwill and support for needy students in the future", he said.

"The board has ensured that assistance should be provided to all applicants in a smooth and easy manner and without any discrimination," he said.

All other education boards in KP should follow the example set by BISE Peshawar, said BISE Peshawar Secretary Bashir Khan Yousafzai.

"Financial assistance in the form of a fee exemption will be a gesture of respect and will help children by reducing their educational expenses," he told Pakistan Forward.

The outcome could be amplified by developing an institutionalised framework for universities and professional organisations to provide such students scholarships, Yousafzai said.

"It is the responsibility of society to help these children in every possible way by reducing their misery and giving them hope to overcome trauma," he said.

Victims show appreciation

Every step taken by the government for the welfare of terror victims deserves appreciation, said Kazim Hussain, the father of Shah Rukh, a student who was wounded in the Army Public School (APS) massacre in Peshawar in 2014.

Rukh is now a second-year chemical engineering student at the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar (UTEP).

"We support the decision of BISE Peshawar to exempt children of militancy affected families from fees and deem it a step to acknowledge their sacrifices and give them respect," he told Pakistan Forward.

Most students who have lost their parents in terror incidents are struggling financially, he said, adding that the KP government and Pakistan's Higher Education Commission should take measures to help these students achieve higher education.

"Only two seats have been allocated by UTEP for militancy affected students -- one for a child of [a martyr] and another for a student injured in a terrorist act -- which is incompatible with the number of affected students," Hussain said.

Setting aside more seats for terrorism-affected students and exempting them from fees would encourage them to attend university and increase their confidence in government, he said.

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It's so cruel in Bisep, they just collect Rs. 500 for immigration that a poor man don't have.