Monday

Failing state education on a spectacular scale

Gordon Brown would like to send taxpayers’ money to provide more education in Africa, by which he means more state education. There are far better ways of helping Africa. Below is part of an article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. It graphically describes how money put into state education in Pakistan has been wasted on an astonishing scale.
Of course Africa is not Pakistan. But it is hardly renowned as a place where government corruption is unknown. And James Tooley’s Newsnight report from Africa last year indicated that, on the contrary, money spent on state education in certain countries there was by no means well spent.
If poor people in Britain were taxed in order to hand over their money to African government to waste in anything like the way described below, it would be appalling.

Millions of children in Pakistan are denied even a basic education because of wide-scale corruption and inefficiency in the state system, an independent watchdog has revealed.
At one school, the playground is so full of rubbish dumped by neighbours that the stench is too foul for children to play, in another, the classrooms are used to store grain and at a third, 49 teachers draw salaries even though there are no pupils.
Yet a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan claims that such cases are far from unusual, and that state education is so crippled by graft and its accounts so poorly monitored, that millions of pupils are receiving no meaningful education. About 40,000 “ghost schools” stand empty or are used for other purposes.
Of the often-squalid, crowded schools where teachers and pupils do actually meet, more than 60,000 (39 per cent) have no drinking water, 96,000 (62 per cent) have no electricity and 76,000 (49 per cent) have no lavatories, the report, published last month, reveals.
At Karachi’s Haqqani Chowk School, 49 teachers are on the payroll, costing the school £7,170 a month, but no pupils are registered. At another primary school in the city, 40 teachers have been appointed to teach only 11 enrolled children.
“Most of the teachers in public-sector schools have secured postings to institutions where they need not attend every day, and at least 50 per cent of the teaching staff in public-sector schools are ‘ghost teachers’,” said Abdul Wahab Abbassi, a senior education official.
The absentee teachers handed between 30 and 40 per cent of their salaries to district education supervisors to ensure that they kept their “jobs”, Mr Abbassi added.
In Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, 3,228 school buildings are used as autaqs – gathering places for men – or for grain storage, and their playgrounds as livestock pens.

  1. What’s wrong with free education for Africa
  2. Has state education peaked?
  3. An education organisation that leaves schools without head teachers is incompetent
  4. How the state wastes teachers’ time and taxpayers’ money.
  5. Mr Brown spreads failure to Africa
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