January 22, 2015
An article by Irshad Salim published by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: With 40,000 ghost teachers and 5,200 ghost schools in Sindh--education is a scary prospect
by Irshad Salim
Over 40,000 ghost teachers and 5,229 ghost schools remain un-addressed in Sindh despite allocation of Rs 145.02 billion budget for education.
Additionally, around 60 percent schools remained without drinking water facility, 40 percent without electricity and 35 percent without any boundary wall.
The current state of education in Sindh was the topic discussed at a provincial meeting on education governance recently in Karachi.
The roundtable discussion took place among the key stakeholders of the education sector and was organized by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with ILM Ideas (a 3 year UKaid funded program).
Back in 2013, the apex court had constituted a commission comprising district and sessions judges to investigate 'ghost' schools and ascertain reasons for the state's apathy towards government schools.
The report revealed that there are total 48,227 schools established by the provincial government in the 27 districts of the province, including the five districts of Karachi, to impart education from primary level. Although the building structures of as many as 4,540 government schools exist on ground, they are no more functional, according to the report.
These schools have neither been shut down by the Taliban nor bombed by suicide bombers. But they remain closed under the influence of lords ruling the peaceful land of the Sufi saints, wrote Express Tribune.
During inspection, the judges found that there are 2,181 other schools that only exist in files but there are no signs of them on ground. Some news reports also claimed that several schools have been converted into cattle pens or guest rooms for the local landlords.
"Asif Ali Zardari may have made a generous donation of $10 million for a global initiative to educate all girls by the year 2015 – set up in the name of Malala Yousufzai – but his government has shamelessly failed to open more than 6,000 schools in his own home district," the paper wrote after reviewing the apex court report.
The number (2181) of ghost schools has now jumped to 5229 — in less than two years.
Interestingly, the 2013 report also revealed that the highest numbers of ghost schools are located in Peoples Party Chairman Zardari's district, Benazirabad, which also has 112 schools that have been encroached upon. Peoples Party has ruled for most of the past 66 years in Sindh.
Dadu district, where former education minister Pir Mazharul Haq of Peoples Party holds sway, has the third highest number of ghost schools in Sindh with 271 ghost schools. Haq was elected from Dadu's constituency of PS-74 in the 2008 elections, followed by his son Pir Mujeebul Haq in 2013.
The former education minister refused, however, to accept the commission's findings. "I am not aware of any such report but if these are the findings then I challenge these figures," he said. "This is certainly not possible that I would take action against ghost schools across Sindh and ignore my own district."
Dr. Fazlullah Pechehu, Secretary Education, Government of Sindh told the roundtable discussion held on Monday that the system of accountability is there but it is defective. He also said that his department has got the approval of the cabinet for public and private partnership for schools in Sindh.
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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.