Sindh education secretary Fazalullah Pechuho has pledged to fight against corruption and put an end to all irregularities in his department.
"We now promise that if we find corruption in any section of the department, we will pursue the case and dig out the culprits," he said, while addressing a press conference at his office at the Sindh secretariat building.
"There was no truth in the rumours that I was stopped at the airport last month," he said, adding that he had not even gone to the airport that day. "Nowadays, there are reports circulating about corruption in the education department." Pechuho decried that media organisations did not confirm such rumours before putting them on air or publishing them. "The news of raids on the offices of the Reform Support Unit was also not true," he said, giving a recent example.
The department is facing a crisis in the payment of salaries of teachers who have been appointed through the National Testing System. "We are working in collaboration with all the institutions to root out corruption in the education department," he claimed.
Sharing the history of the problems being faced by the department, the secretary said that previous governments had appointed hundreds of employees on the basis of favouritism. "None made on the basis of merit and now the anti-corruption department and the National Accountability Bureau are looking into them," he added.
The incumbent secretary's words seem to be quite true as former minister, Pir Mazharul Haq, has even gone to court to obtain protective bail, sensing the accountability bureau closing in on his corruption scandals.
Preceding governments constructed many schools in rural Sindh that were not even needed and they now serve as autaak (a gathering place for men in rural areas) for the feudal lord of the village, Pechuho claimed. "There are many schools and colleges all over Sindh that have more teachers than students enrolled in them," he said, in response to a question as to why several colleges in Hyderabad had double the number of sanctioned teachers.
Pechuho also claimed to have introduced the biometric system in the education department, which will help point out the ghost teachers. "I have also sent a summary to the chief minister last year to appoint two secretaries for the education department and divide the work so they can function better".
According to the audit department's report, there are discrepancies worth Rs1.5 billion in the RSU's accounts, he said, holding up the letter written by the audit director-general. "We will close down the RSU if the corruption charges are proven," he said, adding that the allegations were part of a planned conspiracy to stop all the funding from the World Bank, European Union and USAID. The secretary demanded the audit DG to withdraw his report and investigate the irregularities properly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.