81 schools, colleges await computers, internet

Zahid Gishkori May 01, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Computer Bureau (PCB) has failed to set up computer labs in 81 government schools and colleges despite a plan approved at least a year ago.

PCB initiated a project called “Introduction of Computer Education in 81 FG Model Schools and Colleges in ICT, Islamabad” with the objective of equipping them with computer labs and internet facilities. A figure of Rs5.1 million was allocated for the provision of internet services. The project was approved by the information technology ministry when Atiqur Rehman was Director-general-ederal Directorate of Education (FDE).

The DG FDE Shaheen Khan told The Express Tribune, “We have not received a single computer from PCB for [at least] the last seven months.” “We have reminded the PCB many times ... but their response has mostly been that this cannot be done at the moment because of a shortage of funds,” she said. The PCB paid Rs2.576 million to an internet provider, which was selected without tendering, in June 2009, according to a report issued by the Auditorgeneral of Pakistan.

Auditors found that these services were not being provided in six schools that were selected as a sample. Hence, the report found it ‘dubious’ that internet services had been provided to any of the schools. Later, officials of the PCB claimed that internet services had been provided to 70 out of the 81 schools. However, the audit institution has still not been provided any details or proof in this regard. The DG maintains that the PCB has yet to “do anything for these schools”.

“Although Pakistan lags behind in the information technology race but we are far ahead in corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement,” Khan said. Adviser to the Prime Minister for Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, who supervises the PCB, told The Express Tribune that he was not aware of the issues highlighted by the audit report or the project to set up computer labs. “Maybe this has happened because of the lack of funds ... the ministry had an annual deficit amounting to Rs722 million,” he said. “But I am not sure.

I will talk to the relevant authorities on Monday in this regard ... Strict action will be taken against those found guilty,” Khosa added. Shehnaz Riaz, former DG FDE, told The Express Tribune that she was informed by the PCB in February that the computer laboratories will not be set up due to a lack of funds. At the time, the British Council offered to supply 400 computers to the FDE, she said. However, these have not been received as yet, she added.

Riaz said 25 laptops were given by the PCB to the FDE in the tenure of Atiqur Rehman. However, these could not be accounted for when she took over. “No one knew where they had gone,” she said. “Only Intel Corporation Pakistan has provided 283 computers to 481 government educational institutions in ICT,” Shaheen Khan told The Express Tribune. “[The government-funded project] ED-LINKS will provide 40 computers to FDE next month,” she added.


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