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July 18, 2012

Billions sunk in 8,000 ghost schools: official

 
July 18, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A federal government education project worth over Rs8 billion, the Basic Education Community Schools (BECS), is stinking badly and feeding more than 8,000 ghost schools in the country, including the federal capital, a member of the Planning Commission and Board of Directors of the National Education Foundation (NEF) has revealed.
Planning Commission Member Mohayyuddin Marri told The News the funding of the BECS project had been stopped in the current fiscal year as the Planning Commission wanted its revision to check the irregularities and corruption.
When approached, NEF MD Nasir Hayat, who has been recently given this assignment, said his organisation had approached the Finance Ministry for the release of funds for recurring expenditure of the project. He said he did not know that the funding for the project had been stopped. Nasir Hayat, however, did not agree with the figure of ghost schools as quoted by Mohayyuddin Marri, who is also a member of the NEF BoD.Hayat said the figure of ghost schools was only around 800. He said he himself was not satisfied the way the project was being run in the past and for the same reasons, he recently issued a show cause notice to all the four provincial directors for their utter failure to effectively supervise the project.
Hayat said a total of 13,094 schools all over Pakistan were run under this project, whose two years extension was being sought by the NEF. According to Mohayyuddin Marri, more than half of these schools are ghost schools and the huge funds allocated for them go into the pockets of a few. Marri, who hails from Balochistan, said on papers there are 750 schools in Balochistan but on the ground one would hardly find 250.
“Forget about Balochistan, there are ghost schools even in the federal capital,” he asserted. He lamented there was no administrative check on community schools as the NEF was dependent on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to ascertain whether the schools really

existed and doing the envisaged job.
He alleged most of these NGOs were part of the problem as they too ate up the public money that was going down the drain. He said in the name of education, irregular appointments had been made and even persons appointed on contract against this particular project were promoted. Even otherwise, he said, the running of these schools was not in line with what was envisaged in the PC-I.
According to Marri, even the books purchased from the project money had not been provided to students in many cases. He said despite being a member of the NEF BoD, he was totally dissatisfied with this project and its outcome, and for the same reasons had got the projects funding stopped till the revision of the project and its PC-I.
Nasir Hayat, who joined the NEF only two months ago, claimed things had improved during his tenure as he had taken action against all the provincial directors besides holding an inquiry to find out the ghost schools.
Hayat said he would not take any responsibility for anything that was done to the project before his arrival but was ready to be held accountable for what had been done during the last two months and under his tenure. He said he was seeking the dismissal of all the provincial directors, including one from the Punjab who got promotion to BS 19 from BS 16.
Under the BECS, community schools are set up by the community in their houses. The BECS provides Rs3,000, Rs4,000 and Rs4,500 per month to teachers who are matriculate, intermediate and graduate respectively with Rs1,000 additional given per month to each of these schools for electricity charges.
Each of these community schools was supposed to have a minimum of 30 students and were designed to impart education from class I to V. In many schools, which were running for the last four-five years, they do have students in class I, II and III but not in IV and V, which means these schools were run on only official files.
According to Nasir Hayat, NGOs do the supervision of these schools, but added that he was seeking restructuring of the project to ensure that the desired results were achieved. He said a number of BECS officials were removed on corruption charges.
The NEF MD said Rs5.4 billion had already been spent on this project, which required a little over Rs2 billion more for the next two years for which the NEF had already sent the revised PC-I of the project.

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