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July 6, 2019

The story of failure: KP inspection team endorses story of ghost schools, ghost students scam

National

July 6, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a serious charge-sheet against the PTI government in KP, the Provincial Inspection Team (PIT) has endorsed The News story of ghost schools and ghost students in the province, revealing that not only actual number of out of school children (OOSC) was far less than what was claimed, but 74 percent of the amount spent was embezzled.

The PIT inquiry report termed the provincial government’s project for enrolment of out of school children as “The story of failure”. It disclosed that this scandalous project had even affected normal government schools from where many students had left to join these private schools to get the benefits of free uniform and books. The project, the report said, also hurt the government’s policy regarding increase of enrolment in government schools.

The PIT inquiry report, which was submitted to the chief minister few months back, recommended that not only the detected embezzled amount of Rs19.4 million from just 24 Iqra Farogh-e-Taleem Voucher Scheme (IFTVS) schools in Mansehra be recovered, but the matter be referred to NAB to inquire into the working of these schools in all districts of the provinces to “ensure that public money was not pocketed”.

The inquiry report said that the Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation (ESEF) of the KP government registered 89 schools in Mansehra under IFTVS project but the PIT in its inquiry only inspected 24 schools in the district.

About the level of corruption and fraud, the report said that through a survey the Provincial Bureau of Statistics (BOS) identified 23,071 out of school children for their enrolment in district Mansehra. But, the Provincial Inspection Team inquiry found, “The data collected by BOS was found erroneous as per 100 percent validation by DPO (district programme officer) only 4,183 students were physically available, whereas the PIT also found huge variation in the data.”

The inquiry report of the KP government’s own inspection team found that an amount of Rs2.6m was paid to 24 schools (inquired by PIT) in Mansehra on account of free education, books and uniforms to the out of school children after enrolling them in their schools under IFTVS project during the academic year 2017-18. However, upon physical verification by the PIT team, it was found that the actual number of out of school children was far less, which resulted in embezzlement of Rs1.9 million (out of total Rs2.6m) which is 74 percent of the paid amount to these 24 IFTVS schools.

Total project cost of the IFTVS for 25 districts of KP is Rs6.9 billion. Total children enrolled up to 2017 in six districts were 41,000 and target for children to be enrolled in 2018 was 84,000 in all 25 districts.

The PIT inquiry report termed the project as “The story of failure” and said, “The voucher scheme project was initially approved in the year 2014 with limited scope to be implemented in five union councils of Peshawar. The scope of the project through several revisions by BOD was enhanced to the whole province with total cost of about Rs6.9b.”

“However, no provision was made for the required human resource and the district programme officer was responsible for the execution and monitoring of the project…. hence, the project suffered due to technical flaws of implementation of monitoring. The scheme also suffered due to leg pulling/grouping in the managing staff of E&SEF at provincial level. It appeared that anomalies/complication in the execution of IFVTS were deliberately not removed,” read the report.

The report added, “In short, E&SEF outsourced execution of scheme to a department which was of low capacity and having no experience competency. Resultantly, daily wages were hired. Due to that fact embezzlement was facilitated. The project has also negative impact on the retaining of students by government schools which is also required to be tackled to achieve synergistic/macro level results in terms of literacy. It was seen that many students left government schools and got admission in private schools to get the benefit of free uniform and books etc. under the voucher scheme, which directly affected government policy regarding increase/improvement of enrolment of government schools.”

Early this year, The News had broken the story of ghost schools in KP- “Majority of out-of-schools children enrolled in KP found fake, school ghost-

The News had reported that the KP Chief Minister was informed by its own agency- Elementary & Secondary Education Foundation (ESEF)- that among 41,000 out-of-school children enrolled in the targeted six districts of the province till 2017, nearly 21,000 students were fake whereas out of total 90 schools established in just one district for the same purpose 70 have been found ghost.

Under Iqra Farogh-e-Taleem Voucher Scheme (IFTVS), the provincial government had been funding millions of rupees to the “fake” students as well as the “ghost” schools from public kitty without conducting any audit. Since 2014 when the PTI launched this scheme to address the serious of out-of-school children, each student was funded around Rs1,100 per month.

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