ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a nationwide investigation of hundreds of ‘ghost’ schools, instructing the district and sessions judges to survey and submit a report by March 18.
"The government has failed to provide any answer or details about the state of ghost and non-functional schools, while apparently funds and salaries were being disbursed as buildings remain abandoned or occupied by animals," observed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was heading a three-judge bench.
"There are animals kept in schools and the buildings have been turned into stables. This is what we are doing to our children when education is a constitutional right," he said, adding, “This is not the court's job to micro mange things, but we have to enforce fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution." The court, while giving guidelines to the lower courts judges, asked them to survey fake schools functioning within their respective districts, number of students studying therein and the funds being spent on the education sector.
The court wondered why cases were not being instituted against those responsible for the deteriorating condition of schools, and if there was no stay order, then why efforts were mot being made to retrieve the school buildings. It also sought a list containing the names of such officials.
All the chief secretaries and education secretaries were directed to cooperate with the district judges. Likewise, all the district bars’ presidents and secretaries were asked to assist the judges with the surveys, and that if it was needed, then they might appear before the bench on the next hearing.
The Registrar office was ordered to send the copies of the court order to the registrars of the five high courts for implementation.
Justice Chaudhry observed that less than one per cent of the annual budget was allocated to the subject of education, and due to different reasons this schooling sector had been neglected. Voicing concern over political interference in the education sector, he pointed out that one school was being occupied by the Pakistan Rangers. The court observed that the condition of schools in all the provinces was worsening and it was the duty of the govt to provide free education to the citizens under Article 25 A of the Constitution, but nothing had been done in this respect.
The hearing of the case was adjourned until March 18. Rehmat Ullah, the coordinator of charity Sindh Rural Development Society who filed the petition, said 60,000 children alone are not going to school in the rural Sindh district of Matiari. He also showed the judges photos and newspaper reports about a school being used as a police station in the village of Jati.