Official impulsiveness: Ghost schools continue to haunt the province

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If the dismal law and order situation of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) was not enough to dent the province’s school enrolment rate, lack of foresight on part of legislators is further hampering efforts to improve education.

The province has seen a steep rise in the number of ‘ghost schools’ – schools that are functional on paper, have buildings and facilities, but no students or teachers actually taking part in the exchange of education.

The primary reason for the increase in ghost schools is the result-orientated nature of parliamentarians who want to undertake quick development in their constituencies without the consultation of the education department. According to officials of the provincial education department, once the federal government doles out development funds to legislators, within no time, school and college buildings rise up only to act as spaces – not imparting any knowledge.

“They have the building constructed, facilitate  the provision of electricity and water, along with other necessities, but eventually lack staff and students as that is the education department’s job,” said an official, adding such ghost schools are aplenty in the province as they are established without the department’s consent.

The official, who requested not to be named, told The Express Tribune that some ghost schools have now been closed due to disputes between the department and property owners.

He said several class-IV posts at the schools are filled up at the behest of landowners as part of a deal with legislators, and once the education department objects to their recruitment, property owners shut down the schools built on their land.

“This has been going on for a while now, despite the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s clear instructions against ghost schools in this regard,” said the official, adding landowners threaten department officials.

The official said a number of schools in the province have been built without a feasibility report, as other schools are already functioning in many such areas.

“When a school is already accommodating the area’s children, why is there a need to construct another school in the same locality? It is obvious it will remain unused and will go to waste,” said a senior official of the education department.

Source: The Express Tribune