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The Arithmetics of 6760 documented Ghost Schools in Sindh

Mr. Naeem Sadiq a very active member of the Peoples Resistance had only recently stumbled across a very extensive study carried out by the Sindh Education and Literacy Department under the School Rehabilitation Program 2008-2009 with the backing of a number of international donor agencies. To produce a report for the thousands of ghost schools and shelter-less schools scattered all across the province of Sindh.

The ghost schools phenomenon is probably the biggest crime to the future generations of Pakistan, millions get sanctioned on an yearly basis for the construction and the maintenance of these educational centers and in reality they never exist and are merely paper based ghost schools with a fully employed staff and a regular budget extracting millions from the provincial budget whilst our children continue to remain uneducated.

The PDF document initially provided to Mr. Naeem Sadiq {[download id=”8″]} listed approximately 6479 ghost schools but more recently the Reform Support Unit updated its website to list around 6760 Closed Schools while a whopping 7490 Shelter less Schools. if one were to even extrapolate the financial corruption leading from these ~7000 ghost schools its bound to reach astronomical proportions Read Mr. Naeem Sadiq’s oped in todays Dawn titled Ghost Schools Arithmetic

By Naeem Sadiq
Dawn, Sunday, 26 Apr, 2009

There is finally some good news regarding the issue of ghost schools in Sindh. On April 5, 2009 the miscreants who had occupied the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto School at Goth Qaim Kharrul of the Dadu district decided to move out.

After remaining closed for 27 long years, the school opened its gates to the children of the area. What happened to the two or three generations of children who were deprived of education may be explained by the many gun-toting 14-year-olds freely roaming around in the town.

Kudos to Sindh’s education ministry. One was expecting a special newspaper supplement (paid for by taxpayers’ money) with large photographs of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and smaller photographs of the education minister announcing this titanic favour to the people of Goth Qaim Kharrul. After all, with the ‘de-ghosting’ of one school, we have only 6,479 more ghost schools to worry about. Simple arithmetic tells us that if we continue at this rate it will take us exactly 6,479 more years to eliminate all of them. While we seem to be moving in the right direction, it is vital that we assess the dynamics of this phenomenon which may help expedite the process.

Ghost schools fall under numerous categories. Some were constructed not for the sake of children but as money-making endeavours for those involved in unscrupulous activities. Then there are schools located in far-flung or unattractive locations. Children may be willing to go to these but teachers want to avoid them. Also local influential people often find various ways of making use of these vacant buildings. This utilisation ranges from turning them into cattle pens, camps for flood-affected people, fodder storage centres and autaqs (guest houses).

If one goes by government records, most of these schools appear to be functioning whereas in reality the schools are closed and used for other activities. The teachers employed for these schools stay at home or pursue other gainful professions. The entire process is facilitated by bribing the concerned superiors to ensure ‘round-the-year uninterrupted payment of salaries (UPS)’.

Readers who peruse news articles know that over the past many years, education ministers have given different figures for the number of ghost schools in the province. This number varies from 5,000 to 7,700. Despite the argument that it is not a good idea to take foreign funding for merely counting our schools, the World Bank-supported Sindh Reform Support Unit has finally come out with an exact figure of 6,480 ghost schools in the province. Accountabilty Watch

Assuming that this is the accurate and final figure, the education ministry needs to come out with the list of teachers who received salaries and the details of disbursement of funds to these schools over the years. Clearly both the education department and the local politicos are to be blamed for this despicable combination of incompetence and corruption. The people of Pakistan have a right to know where and why their money is being pilfered and misused. Can the guilty be called any different from those who bomb girls’ schools in Swat?

Action can be taken to put an immediate end to this ‘ghostly’ phenomenon. The government should stop giving funds to ghost schools even if the recipients are their supporters. It should hold all concerned officials of the education department accountable for being a party to this. If this is not done, the disease will promptly reappear and the schools will be reoccupied.

Student truancy-monitoring systems are in place in schools in many western countries. These can track and report the absence of a student not only for the day but even one period. The least we can do is to be able to track the presence of teachers and students. Why can’t the province of Sindh place all facts and information relating to all its schools on a website? This could include the names of schools and teachers, addresses, number of students, number of classrooms, yearly expenses, academic performance assessments and other relevant information.

Community-based school monitoring and reporting systems could be instituted. Any citizen should be able to file a complaint about the absence of teachers or if any other irregularity is found. The education department’s budget for placing political advertisements should instead be spent on informing citizens on how they can monitor their local schools and make a complaint through an email, phone call, fax or letter.

Key performance indicators need to be created and reported by each school every month. The current method of school inspection and monitoring has collapsed and needs to be completely revamped. A public debate should be initiated and a consensus should be reached on how to address the issue and prevent functional schools from becoming ghost schools in the future. Can we ever compensate those thousands of children whose future has been destroyed because we siphoned millions from the state exchequer — funds and resources that were intended to keep schools functional for them? The guilty must be held accountable.


  • dr.jawwad khan

    6760 ghost schools!!!!

    a god damn wastage for this country.the check and balance is gone.the accountability is zero.the whole system has become non functional.

  • http://indionidol4.blogspot.com/2009/04/pak-vs-australia-live-online-cricket.html Faizan

    i dun believe this. this happen in Pakistan.

  • http://www.bengalunderattack.blogspot.com BENGAL UNDER ATTACK

    Interesting,

    It happens here (india) all the time – and in corporate circles too (Satyam – ghost employees).

    Though Pakistan has something that India does not – the madaris of Deoband – and its enlightening teaching which teaches "tolerance" and "assimilation" – the future leaders of Pakistan and army will come from there.

    Cheers !

  • Anwar

    This socialism at its best….

  • http://blog.siliconstani.com Siliconstani

    @Faizan, believe it, sadly it is for real.

  • Qaimkhani

    @Faizan,

    You sound like you never lived in Pakistan :)

  • http://www.akchishti.blogspot.com Barrister Ali K.Chis

    Okay, I am just calculating now – 6760 Schools

    Multiplay 6760 x 10,000 (which is half the amount to run a school ) and you get = Rs.6 cr, 76 lacs for a month and since these schools would be arround for atleast 15 years – someone pocketed Rs.12 Billion 16 Carores out of it with a very very conservative figue – I am recokeninn the amount to be arround Rs.28-32 Billion PKR….

    Ah, no wonder feudalism is the biggest curse on Pakistan!

  • Asim

    Barrister Ali K.Chishti,

    why only blame Feudalims for this corruption? what about the free riders? who are enjoying this corruption too. Just check the brother of Abbas Haider Rizvi (MQM). Check his bank balance before 8 years and check his profile now. GO DENY IT. YOu guys talk as if we are blind to whats going on.

  • Gangoli

    Awab,

    *Congratulations*, GHQ has heard your protests and Pakistan Army is now crushing the 'laddy-floggers' with full force. They are using even the fighter jets.

    This is what you wanted. You should hail General Kiyani and rest of Pakistan Army.

    Why not write a blog covering the great things of this operation 'cleanup', atleast you should praise the Generals who heard your cry.

  • http://www.akchishti.blogspot.com Barrister Ali K.Chis

    Asim,

    Rumor Mongers! Try to come up with something better….lossers!

  • nadeem wagan

    pakistan must pay heed to its education for ending terrorism