LAHORE - The Education Department have failed miserably to stop computers theft from the labs established at the govt schools, as dozens of cases have been reported from 16 districts of Punjab. The Education Department is citing shortage of watchmen as the basic reason and sought approval to fill 504 posts currently vacant in different schools. After the failure of police besides the commissioners and the DCOs to devise a security plan to prevent the trend, the chief minister directed the department to hire the private security agencies, a move opposed by the secretary Education, saying it would cost an additional amount of more than one billion rupees while the total annual salaries of new personnel would be Rs 84 million only. But interestingly, the chief minister while rejecting the recommendation has now asked the chief secretary to form a committee for acquiring the services of private agencies. It is worth recalling that the govt had set up computers labs, costing Rs 25 billion, at 4,286 schools last year across the province, a move described to give boost to quality of education. An amount of Rs 500 million has also been utilised for ensuring safety of equipment at the schools premises but it did not stop theft, reported from various districts, including Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Vehari, DG Khan, Rahim Yar Khan, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalpur, Sargodha, Hafizabad, Faisalabad, Jhang, Mianwali and Layyah. When asked, the sources in Education Department said the security was a responsibility of the department itself and the high-ups had approved contracts worth billion of rupees just to protect their own interests. Labs have been established in even the schools without any boundary wall. They say the IT Project, especially formed to implement the scheme, had asked the schools to select one of the available rooms for lab. They didnt bothered to conduct a survey, they remarked.