LAHORE: Irregularities have been found in the Punjab government’s school enrollment drive. Lower numbers are being reported compared to government data, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Taking notice of the discrepancies in the data, the School Education Department (SED) has also sent a letter to all district education authorities (DEAs) and chief executive officers (CEOs).
The letter titled “Decreased Enrollment of Students and Tagging as Compared to Census Data 2016” instructed CEOs to ensure that all enrolled students were tagged as per the targets set for enrollment campaign for 2017.
The difference in the number of enrolled students and the number of students in the Punjab government’s database, called the School Information System (SIS), has been attributed to several issues.
According to an official of the SED, who requested anonymity, the difference was due to three broader issues. He said the first reason was that tagging process of SIS had missed some schools. The second, he said, was due to students being absent, so their data was not present in the system. The third and the most critical, according to the official, was that of bogus data submitted during the school census.
“The reason some teachers exaggerate enrollments in their schools is because they were given certain targets by the provincial government. In some areas, teachers enter bogus data when they are unable to meet enrollment targets,” he said.
The Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) General Secretary Rana Liaquat agreed and said schools were tagging students as per the instructions of the SED. He said most of the enrollment difference would disappear as more and more students were tagged. About the allegedly bogus data, he was of the view that this occurred due of the pressure put on schoolteachers. “A teacher’s job is to teach and enrollment was an added burden.” He added that this sometimes led to the release of false data as teachers feared punishments,” he added.
When contacted, SED Secretary Dr Allah Baksh Malik said the difference was due to the fact that some children were not yet tagged by the monitoring system. “These children have been enrolled and are in schools,” he added.
“We have enrolled more children in schools in Punjab than our target in this year’s campaign. The enrollment target was 11.2 million children and we have enrolled 12.7 million children across Punjab’s schools.”
He said the government had decided that all particulars of children in schools of Punjab would be tagged and made available at three different departments: the Programme Monitoring & Implementation Unit (PMIU), the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and the SED.
He said the letter had instructions for CEOs of their respective jurisdictions to ensure that all children in schools are tagged. “There is no shortfall and the difference is getting lower as more children are being tagged by the online system. There will be no difference left in one week as all the children get tagged by the system,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2017.