The FATA Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2013-14 has allocated Rs3.67 billion for education, but it seems little of this will be of benefit to children in the Frontier Regions (FR).
At least 136 out of 444 schools in FR Lakki Marwat and FR Bannu are non-functional, depriving children of their most basic right to education. FR Lakki Marwat is allocated Rs13.31 million and FR Bannu Rs59.93 million from the ADP.
Official documents available with The Express Tribune reveal there are 81 inactive schools, including a high school, a middle school, 62 primary, 15 community and 2 maktab schools in FR Lakki Marwat. The situation in FR Bannu is similarly bleak, with 55 non-operational schools, including one middle and 54 primary schools on the list.
Though not a single child has benefited from these schools, teachers officially deputed there continue to draw salaries in connivance with the supervisory staff, stated the document. It further explained agency education officers of both FRs were receiving money from the government exchequer for ‘expenses’ allegedly spent on furniture, fixtures and other upkeep of these 136 non-operational schools.
The documents reveal a majority of these school buildings are being used by their owners as guesthouses and at times as barns housing animals.
Bringing accountability into play
On August 19, 2013, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shaukatullah Khan directed the governor’s inspection team to hold an inquiry into the said non-operational schools. The report is to be completed in 15 days following the reopening of educational institutions after the summer break.
Once schools reopen, each school mentioned in the documents has to be physically verified and pictorial evidence of its existing state must be recorded. In addition, the location of the school and the cost of its infrastructure must also be highlighted.
Details such as the number of staff hired, their date of appointment, their attendance, job performance and salary details will also be confirmed.
Evidence of student enrolment and board exam attendance must also be collected.
Once the verification process is complete, names of officials who declared these schools to be operational will be held financially responsible. Faculty members who continued to draw salaries for virtually non-existent schools will also be indicated and the amount of money which they received documented.
The verification will also clarify if the two FRs have been brought under the Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (PIFRA). If PIFRA has been implemented in FRs Lakki Marwat and Bannu, then the manipulation of a computerised payment transfer system will be investigated. Agency Education Officers and Additional Agency Education Officers responsible for the irregularities will be identified.
As the initial survey was carried out during the summer break, Principal Secretary to Governor Muhammad Abid Majeed explains the inquiry has to start today (September 2), the first day of school for most.
“Agency education officers have provided figures of enrolment and we will cross-check it with exam results to certify whether the figures given reflect actual students or not.”
Management staff and teachers responsible for the cover-up have to be taken to task; nothing will be swept under the rug, maintained Majeed.
“According to our data, 68% of primary schools are underutilised – constructed in places which are not feasible. We need to carry out similar exercises in all agencies and take decisive action.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2013.
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