SUKKUR: A school in Larkana that saw attendance jump from nearly zero to 75 in over two years has been shut down, by no one other than its own headmaster.
In fact, headmaster Abdul Qadir Bhutto has been accused of incessantly creating hurdles for the teachers and other staff, and allegedly stealing the solar panel system and other equipment.
The crisis worsened on January 23 when the headmaster forced all staff members and the students out of the school and locked it from inside. The students and their parents boarded a bus to the office of Larkana district education department, where they staged a protest.
Education director Razia Pathan refused to meet the protesters but she called a few people from Ali Hassan Mangi Trust, which adopted this school in 2014, to get details about the issue. She assured the trust members that this issue will be resolved. “The headmaster in question has already been asked to report to the education secretary so there was no sense in suspending him,” Pathan told The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, Ali Hassan Mangi Trust’s founder and managing trustee Naween Mangi wrote a letter to the chief minister on Monday, apprising him of these developments. She wrote that the headmaster enjoys the backing of a Pakistan Peoples Party MPA which is why he even refuses to listen to the education secretary.
The trust demanded Bhutto’s removal as it feared he will carry on the practice at another school if he is merely transferred. Our trust is trying hard to bring a positive change in the education system and we hope that the CM will fully support our noble cause by throwing such black sheep out of the department, she added.
Refusal to cooperate
According to Mangi, they have requested the headmaster repeatedly to run the school properly and cooperate with the organisation to improve attendance.
“He not only refused to cooperate but began creating hurdles in the smooth running of the school,” she claimed. Bhutto ordered his staff not to teach even when they were present in school and also ordered the cleaning staff not to clean the classrooms, she said. “He even has a habit of marking the absent staff as present in exchange for money.”
The trust used the government’s School Management Committee (SMC) funds to purchase a solar panel worth Rs46,000 for the school but Bhutto promptly took them to his house. “When he heard that we complained to the education department, he brought back part of it and locked it in a toilet,” she said, adding that fans from their kit are missing, and so are doors, windows and bulbs.
Recently, Mangi checked with the school’s SMC funds with the bank and learned that an amount of Rs44,000 was withdrawn by the headmaster. “It was pocketed by him because nothing has been spent on the school,” she said.
In his defence
Bhutto, who happened to be reporting to the education secretary when The Express Tribune contacted him, dismissed the allegations that he was hindering the smooth running of the school. “I and all the government teachers take keen interest in imparting education to students,” he said.
He refuted the allegations of stealing the solar panel and other equipment. “All equipment was removed by the trust,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2017.