By Mohammad Ashfaq
PESHAWAR: Doubts have arisen about the authenticity of a survey conducted by the elementary and secondary education department about the out-of-school children in the province at a cost of Rs227 million.
The department had carried out the exercise a year ago by engaging schoolteachers. The survey`s preliminary report claimed that around 1.5 children were out of school.
However, the number later jumped to 1.8 million after further examination. The education department had announced the release of the survey`s findings in the middle of October 2017 but it has yet to happen.
However, serious discrepancies were found about the survey when the Elementary Education Foundation, which is overseen by the education department, approached the out-of-school children for admission to private schools though the Bureau of Statistics.
The EEF is responsible for enrolling the out-of-school children in private schools under a government scheme executed in the areas, which didn`t have any public sector school within a distance of two kilometers. The EEF had got the data of such children from the education department before awarding a contract of Rs41 million to the Bureau of Statistics for verif ying it.
However, when the bureau`s teams approached the addresses of the out-of-school children mentioned in the survey details, many of them were found to be wrong. Some of ficials questioned the need for the verification of the survey findings and that, too, at the cost of a hef ty amount of Rs41 million.
The sources claimed the planning and development department had also objected to the EEF`s move wondering if the education department had conducted the survey, then why the foundation went for the verification of its findings.
`If the validation of the out-of-school children, the survey was checked accurately a lot of unreported children would surface,` a senior officer of the education department said.
He claimed the education department had conducted the survey through its teachers, who intentionally didn`t correctly report the number of out-of-school children just to `protect` the headmasters and teachers of the nearest schools whom the education department had asked to for the enrollment of such students.
The education department launches the enrollment campaign across the province through its teachers twice a year. In the survey, around four million households were visited by the teachers to gather requisite data of children up to the age of 16 years in all districts of the province.
The survey is meant to ascertain the numbers and locations of out-of-school children and type and level of schools of enrolled children along with the reasons leading to non-attendance of the school.
The education department had engaged 40,000 primary school teachers as enumerators and 7,500 teachers as their supervisors. The enumerators were tasked with visiting 100 houses for collecting the data of the children not going to schools.
The EEF has planned to enroll 75,000 out-of-school children in the private schools under the `voucher scheme`, while 40,000 students are already getting education in private school at the government`s expenses. Elementary and secondary education minister Mohammad Atif Khan was not available for comments.
However, a senior official of the education department involved in the entire process of the survey claimed that there was no doubt about the survey. He said the department had got the data verified by a third party, which hadn`t reported any flaws. –Dawn
By Mohammad Ashfaq