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ISLAMABAD: Due to the inordinate delay in the ongoing project of renovating 200 educational institutions in the capital under the Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme, the Planning Commission has hinted it will not extend the project, putting the last phase for renovating the next 200 schools at risk.

“Due to some technical issues, the Planning Commission has hinted that it would not extend the project, but my efforts are underway and I am hopeful the project will find place in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of the upcoming fiscal year,” said State Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

He said that the Planning Commission has said the next phase cannot be approved without the completion of phase II.

“I am in constant touch with Planning Commission Minister Ahsan Iqbal and hopefully, in the next few days, the matter will be resolved,” the minister said.

There are 423 schools and colleges in Islamabad. The programme was started by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Dec 2015 and was divided in three phases. Under the first phase, 23 schools and colleges were renovated, and work is under process in 200 schools in the second phase. The remaining schools were to be renovated in the last phase, which is uncertain now.

Sources said that the fate of ongoing phase is also uncertain, as the CADD ministry has been seeking Rs845 million, which was surrendered in last financial year, for completion of this phase. Sources said that the Planning Commission told CADD that this amount could be added in the upcoming PSDP.

“If this Rs845 million is not released, we will not be able to complete the ongoing phase in this financial year,” said an official of the CADD ministry.

He said that for the financial year 2017-18, the government had allocated almost Rs1.7 billion, all of which has been released and spent. “Now, we are totally relying on the Rs845 million for completing the ongoing work,” he said.

“The work is near completion in many schools,” he said.

When contacted, Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) Director General Hasnat Qureshi said that when CADD ministry demanded the Rs845 million, the Planning Commission before deciding the matter, asked CADD and FDE to submit a progress report and expenditure sheet.

“Today, on the direction of the CADD secretary, I have formed three monitoring teams, which will submit progress reports in next few days,” he said and added that there are chances that the Rs845 million will be released shortly.

“However, I have no idea about the next phase of the project,” the DG said.

The disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister has led to many delays in the conduction of the Prime Minister Education Reform Programme. The reforms programme was the brainchild of Maryam Nawaz. It was started after she noticed that several facilities were missing in a girls’ school in Kot Hatyal during a visit.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2018