Ghost schools saga: In Punjab, BECS students to be sent to government schools

Decision taken after rampant corruption highlighted in audit report.


Peer Muhammad July 10, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Marred in controversies and faced with an uncertain future , the Basic Education Community Schools (BECS), project of National Education Foundation (NEF) does not offer a lot of hope for its students across the country.


In view of these issues, the Punjab government has directed its provincial education department to enrol students of BECS in the formal schools.

Despite their poor performance, BECS schools were until recently the preferred choice of parents. These community schools initially provided free education along with incentives, including books and lunch. However, these incentives were later discontinued.

A senior official at the National Education Foundation (NEF) stated that the Punjab government is not satisfied with the performance of community schools since the management neither gives books to students nor pays teachers on time, which disrupts their education.

Last year, the federal government had asked the provinces to adopt the BECS schools after the 18th amendment. But all of the provincial governments refused to take the responsibility due to mismanagement and rampant corruption in the programme.

The highest number of BECS schools are in Punjab, where the corruption rate is also the highest. These BECS schools are supervised by NGOs, the majority of which get funds from the NEF in connivance with officials for “ghost schools”. There are 6,465 schools and 262,744 students in Punjab under this programme.

The BECS programme is one of the most controversial due to record mismanagement and corruption and all the appointments and transfers are politically motivated, which has resulted in poor performances, said an official. The National Database and Registration Authority has detected around 2,000 ghost schools only in Balochistan. The officials are getting funds for schools which do not even exist, whereas there is no money left for the ones that actually do, he added.

When contacted, Punjab BECS Director Faisal Shahzad Awan admitted that the provincial government had issued the directive some time back. However, he said the future of this programme is ‘bright’. When he was asked about the corruption and mismanagement, the director said that it happened everywhere in the world and was nothing ‘strange’. Awan added that there was no significant record of corruption in Punjab. When his attention was drawn towards the audit report, which highlighted large-scale embezzlement, he said, “The audit report is written in a language which presents everything in contrast to the way it really is.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.

COMMENTS (5)

Nawaz Bhutta | 10 years ago | Reply

@Ali Hassan Mazari: good analysis. audit paras are not the evidence of embezzlement or corruption. sometime procedural mistakes are also seems as embezzlement. therefore, most audit paras are settled. This program is a sign of hope and must be continued as per judgement of SCP.

Nawaz Bhutta | 10 years ago | Reply

It is better to evolve social welfare department, education department and planning commission to visit BECS project in order to verify the schools. recent data collected by education department in supervision of DCOs of the relevant district can be easily compared with data of BECS project in order to verify the enrollment of the learners. BECS project is a big facility for the poor and formal system can not replace it. if any misappropriations are found corrective measures can be taken. Nawaz Bhutta.Sargodha.

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