Schools falter in dengue response

Preventive measures not taken despite fund allocation

Adnan Lodhi September 19, 2023


Thousands of school heads in Punjab have failed to spend the available funds to prevent dengue in their institutions, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to sources in the Punjab School Education Department, around 100 government schools in Lahore are among the institutions across the province where non-salary budget has not been used to launch anti-dengue campaigns this year.

The heads of the schools had funds of up to Rs1 million each available for expenses on various tasks but they were not spent on measures against dengue fever.

The Lahore District Education Authority has asked the schools heads found negligent in fulfilling the responsibility to explain why the funds had not been utilised in anti-dengue campaigns, the sources said.

Dengue fever has already spread to an alarming level in Punjab amidst efforts by the departments concerned and the administration of all districts to protect the citizens against the risk.

However, negligence on the part of a large number of school heads has been noticed in this regard.

The sources said the school education department was planning to take strict action after ascertaining the details about lack of implementation of anti-dengue campaigns in government schools.

The government schools are engaged by the Punjab government every year as a part of anti-dengue campaigns to organise awareness activities about the disease.

The provincial government allocates funds to the public sector schools and their heads are responsible to spend the amount on development work and other activities, including anti-dengue campaigns.

An official said about 100 schools in Lahore had failed to participate in the anti-dengue campaigns despite the availability of funds for the purpose.

He said the chief executive officers of the district education authorities should also face action over their failure to ensure anti-dengue measures in all schools.

The Punjab government allocate Rs1,000 per students each year to the schools for their expenses. The schools receive this non-salary budget in four installments in a year.

A senior official of the department said the school heads had to spend the budget by the end of the financial year but negligence and mismanagement on their part had resulted in the funds remaining unutilised.

He said the school heads had been reminded several times to spend the funds on anti-dengue campaigns as the whole province was facing the risk.

“Action will now be taken against all CEOs of education authorities and schools heads who complained of lack of funds but failed to utilise the available resources,” the official said.

He said it had It also been decided that the available funds would now be spent in schools of the districts where dengue was at its peak.

Punjab Teachers Union secretary general Rana Liaqat Ali said school administrators usually saved money from the budget to pay electricity bills, maintain the buildings and meet the stationery expenses during exams in addition to activities like anti-dengue campaigns.

He said the causes of the lapse would become clear after then school heads concerned would submit their replies.

On the other hand, a headmaster, seeking anonymity, said an important reason of low spending was that “we have to get approval from the district education authority and explain where we want to spend the money”.

He alleged that some officials hindered the process.

He said the fuds left unspent were still present in the school accounts and had not been wasted.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2023.


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