Around 900 ‘ghost’ schools, 234,000 ‘ghost’ students have been uncovered in Balochistan
Children are the future of our nation. Cheating them must constitute one of the most unethical and underhand of activities. One would think few would be capable of this. But the conscience that would prevent most from robbing children of opportunity seems to have vanished from our nation. Tragically, ordinary people are the losers. In Quetta, at a function intended to honour schoolteachers and introduce a new technology intended to monitor schools electronically, the provincial education secretary revealed that 234,000 ‘ghost’ students had been discovered enrolled at various schools in the province. These pupils existed only on paper, and were intended to bring in more money for officials. The ‘ghost’ student idea is a new one and comes in addition to the ‘ghost’ schools and ‘ghost’ teachers which already exist. Clearly we are an innovative people — but in the wrong way. Around 900 ‘ghost’ schools have also been uncovered in Balochistan.
All this augurs especially ill for a province in desperate need of development. Education is one of its key needs. In some districts of Balochistan, literacy stands at a dismal 20 per cent, a desperately low rate with the national average at around 60 per cent. The female literacy figure stands at under five per cent in some places, and there are villages where no school exists for miles around. In this situation, the corruption we are seeing is especially disturbing. The chief minister of the province, who also attended the seminar, expressed his own dismay over the dishonesty and appealed to education officials to show more humanity. He also pointed out that 70 per cent of the education budget went towards paying salaries and meeting other administrative expenses, leaving behind a mere Rs40 billion for development work. This daylight robbery we are seeing makes matters worse. The situation is unsustainable. It is not only money that is being taken away but also the very future of the next generation. This can mean only a very dark future for Balochistan. We need to turn the lights on and bring hope to the lives of the people of the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.
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