LAHORE - Against the target of 6,519 classrooms, only 765 classrooms will be constructed by the end of the outgoing fiscal year, according to official documents.

The initial target was construction of 23,000 classrooms with the help of DFID-UK, a non-government organisation.

Construction of additional classrooms is part of the Khadim-e-Punjab School Programme (KPSP) for which an amount of Rs6.5 billion was earmarked in the annual development programme of financial year 2017-18. The allocation of this amount was meant to ensure facilities in around 50,000 schools having an enrollment of 10 million students.

Documents say that 2,419 classrooms are under construction at various schools. The programme was started at 3,421 schools and it was meant to develop educational infrastructure and rehabilitate government schools. The Punjab government, in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID)-UK, had started the programme in April 2015 and it would continue until March 2020.

The primary objective of the programme was to construct 23,000 additional classrooms at schools in 16 selected districts of Punjab in collaboration with the Punjab government. The plan was later revised to 10,500 new classrooms at primary and elementary schools in these districts. The target was revised once again and the number of classrooms was decreased to 6,519.

As per statistics, the districts where the programme was started are Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Kasur, Khanewal, Khushab, Lahore, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Sargodha, Sheikhupura and Sialkot.

The DFID had initially approved a grant of Rs104 million for construction of classrooms in Punjab. The grant was later reduced to Rs92 million. The number of classrooms was also later reduced to 10,978. In February 2017, the DFID again revised the number of classrooms under the programme and now it intends to construct only 6,941 classrooms -- 457 classrooms at dangerous schools and 6,484 classrooms at regular schools by March 2020.

The DFID has so far completed 1,263 classrooms whereas 2106 classrooms are under construction.

On the other hand, as per report of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the district education authorities (DEAs) 1,331 classrooms have been completed and 1,596 classrooms are under construction.  However, according to the monthly progress report of August 2017 Hamqadm Punjab Schools Programme, construction of classrooms is substandard. It has been mentioned in the report that poor quality material was used in construction of classrooms.

Pakistan has already missed Millennium Development Goals while the world is committed to Sustainable Development Goals.

Punjab has the highest literacy rate in Pakistan that is 61% with pockets of illiteracy in the southern districts. Reportedly, there are 227,151 children currently enrolled in government primary schools in RY Khan, which is 63% of the total children in the district. The situation in other districts of southern Punjab is not better.

An officer of the Planning and Development Department said on condition of anonymity that substandard work and use of poor quality material was a matter of concern. SED Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik was not available for comment.