PAKISTAN: A Homeland of Ghost Schools

Education is said to be the foundation of a successful society. In a country where ghost schools are sometimes more commonly seen than functional schools, what will be the educational system over there it’s not too much difficult to predict.

Pakistan is a country where education has always been ruined by the feudal lords and bureaucrats. There are so many problems plaguing Pakistan’s educational system anyone who takes on the challenge would be hard pressed to find its starting point. In Pakistan there is a massive increase of such schools which never existed, so called the ‘Ghost Schools’ If you Google the phrase ‘Ghost School’, Pakistan comes up within the top 10 links that the search engine retrieves. It is estimated that there are between 25,000 to 50,000 ghost schools exist in this country.

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“A ghost school is a place or structure that is registered in the education system as a running public school but is not currently functioning as a school”. Instead of being used for imparting knowledge to the children the buildings are turned into shelters for animals or even as a place where chief of villages and elders gather in the evening after a hard day’s work for the sake of gossips. Anything can happen in these rundown buildings, except educational activities. Ghost schools fall under numerous categories: Some of them are professionally constructed not for the sake of children but as money-making endeavors for those involved in such unscrupulous activities. This ranges from turning them into cattle pens, camps for flood-affected people, fodder storage centers and ‘Autaaqs’ (the feudal guest houses or drawing rooms). In government records, most of these schools appear to be functioning.

The teachers employed for these schools stay at home, take free salaries and apart from that they pursue other gainful professions. This entire process is facilitated by bribing on the pillars of corruption. The miserable image of such rundown ghost schools bring about a number of financial corruption issues in the society. Because they are registered as public schools, monthly salaries of ghost teachers, provident funds and pensions, along with pocket money for administrative work are actually funneled to the school. Where and to whom this money goes to is none of anyone’s business.

Bribery and corruption are facilitating people illegally appointed as teachers who benefit from this shameful and criminal system. It is a sad fate of our country that half of the schools being built here were never completed, and those that were completed were not operated and functioned, not due to the lack of funding, but only because of lack of management, state policies and feudal law in order. The hitch of ghost school has widespread in Pakistan, particularly in rural areas. Teacher absenteeism, low attendance and non-existent funding are contributory factors which are strengthening ghost school phenomenon day by day. The ghost schools phenomenon is undoubtedly the biggest crime to the future generations of Pakistan. In these ghost schools teachers are ill-equipped, badly trained and unprepared because these primary school teachers are selected and appointed through political influences, without any merit.

Around 90 per cent of educational budget is spent on salaries of these criminal government teachers; some of them take out second jobs to extra wages with zero accountability. According to a World Bank report 58 per cent of primary/secondary teachers in Pakistan lack in proper credentials. Millions of dollars get allocated on a yearly basis for the construction and the maintenance of educational centers for the bright future of students of this country but in reality they never exist and are merely paper based ghost schools with a fully employed staff, and a regular budget hauling out millions from the provincial budget finally our children continue to remain uneducated. Is this the right educational system? Is this the way to our nation’s future? Is this how we is to become a stronger, more successful and developed country? Future of millions of innocent students of my country is looking forward to get answers of these questions…!