It is an extremely sorry state of affairs that an official audit has discovered embezzlement worth billions of rupees in the federal government’s Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) programme. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was informed by the office of the auditor general that Rs800 million was unlawfully disbursed for this project and a five-member inquiry committee from the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training had established that the amount was disbursed illegally.

The BECS programme has been controversial since 2012 when reports had surfaced that the performance of community schools was dismal and the management neither provided books to students nor paid teachers on time, which disrupted their education. In view of these issues, the Punjab government had directed its provincial education department to enrol students of BECS in the formal schools. Considering the massive corruption that has been unearthed, those complaints are justified, as the sum that was allocated for these schools, never reached them in the first place.

A scrutiny of the accounts of the BECS revealed that the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had also detected over 2,000 fake CNICs of BECS teachers. How these fake CNICs evaded the notice of the authorities for all these years is abysmal. The report said that a sum of Rs140 million was disbursed to these fake teachers every year, yet no inquiry was initiated to fix responsibility for the scam. According to the report, the BECS administration paid Rs80 million for a bogus project and Rs160 million was paid against teachers’ salaries. The amount was disbursed secretly; the BECS administration did not even maintain a list of the teachers who were paid.

This degree of corruption in a government run programme must not go unpunished. The education sector continues to suffer due to greed, nepotism and corruption and this must not go unaccounted for.