SC orders nationwide probe into 'ghost' schools
12 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered district judges across Pakistan to investigate hundreds of 'ghost' schools and submit a report within one month.
The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, also ordered all provincial chief secretaries and education secretaries to cooperate with the district & sessions judges in holding of survey. The court asked presidents and secretaries of all district bars to assist judges in the investigation process.
The court observed that animals are kept in schools and buildings have been turned into stables. "Apparently salaries are being disbursed as buildings remain abandoned or occupied by animals. This is what we are doing to our children when education is a constitutional right," the chief justice said.
"The government has failed to provide any answer or details about the state of ghost and non-functional schools. This is not court's job to micro mange things, but we have to enforce fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution," he added.
The court, in broader guidelines, told the district judges to probe how many functioning as well as ghosts schools existed; how much fund was being spent on education sector and how many students attended the schools; how many school buildings had been occupied and why action was not being taken against the persons responsible; why efforts were mot being made to retrieve school buildings from illegal occupants. The court directed its office to send copies of this order to all high court registrars for implementation.
The chief justice observed that less than one percent of budget was allocated for education sector and schools department was neglected. Expressing concern over the political interference in education sector, the chief justice pointed out that one school was occupied by Pakistan Rangers. The court expressed dissatisfaction over a report by provincial governments over the ghost schools. The court observed that situation of schools was same in all the provinces.
The court said it was duty of the government to provide free education to its citizens under Article 25 A of the constitution but nothing had been done in this regard.
Rehmat Ullah, coordinator of Sindh Rural Development Society and the petitioner in the case, told the bench that around 60,000 children were not going to school in rural Sindh district of Matiari alone. He also showed the court photos and newspaper reports about a school being used as a police station in the village of Jati.
Hearing of the case was adjourned until March 18.