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30,000 ghost schools in country: report

Published Apr 17, 2006 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, April 16: As many as 30,000 ghost schools exist in the country which draw regular funding from the public kitty, says a report prepared by the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The report “Using local government ordinance 2001 to enhance transparency in education” talks of the lacunas in the education sector. It says that due to lack of transparency and public monitoring, use of funds in the sector is not equitable and need-based. Instead, it is mostly politicised, depriving the schools in relatively poor and backward areas of necessary facilities.

“Today, there are 22,755 schools (16.75 per cent) without shelter, 61,383 (39 per cent) without drinking water, 96,708 (62 per cent) without electricity, 76,312 (49 per cent) institutions without toilet facilities and 71,681 (46 per cent) schools have no boundary walls,” the survey notes.

It targets the whole system and says that the evaluation process is not transparent. In the past, students had been able to pass examinations by giving bribes and managing to get fake degrees and certificates. Administrators and supervisors in districts have become corrupt and found to extort bribes from teachers, students and parents even for resolving their legitimate concerns. “The recruitment of teachers and other staff is very often politicised which ends up in recruitment of incompetent and low-quality human resources. Similarly, transfers of teachers are not done on merit and correct need, but on the basis of informal connections and political influence.”

Embezzlement of public funds is a major problem, but due to secrecy and lack of public accountability, this corrupt practice could not be rooted out.

As a whole, the survey paints a very disturbing picture of the state of affairs in the education sector, saying it is dismally disheartening, as a non-opaque and cumbersome procedures, formal as well as informal, have allowed the abuse of powers to flourish in this sector. The present procedures and rules do not provide much space for citizens to participate in the relevant planning or to play any significant monitoring role in the sector. As a result, problems of corruption, inefficiencies and irrational allocation of resources pervade this vitally important field. The report stresses on transparency in order to do away with the culture of secrecy in decision-making and actions and enable people to hold the government officials accountable for what they do.