A letter to an editor shows the state of affairs in school education and makes very depressing reading. The letter reads as follows: "In our village Bootlianwali, Tehsil Minchinabad, District Bahawalnagar, a girl's primary school has been sanctioned since a long time, and teachers' posts have been approved for the same. However, since a long time the teachers on duty have not come to teach. The local people have filed petitions with the EDO Education, DO Women's Education, and Deputy Education Officer, Minchinabad to ensure the presence of the lady teachers, but to no avail. When the Assistant Education Officer was contacted, she said that according to her records the school was functioning normally. When she was told that we were from the same village and such was not the case, she referred to an 'internal order'. We request the authorities for a favour. The Indian border is only a couple of miles from our village. In the morning we can hear young girls singing bhajans and Bande Matram. We may be allowed to take our kids on tractor trolleys to the Indian village so that they can be educated there." This example highlights the desperate state of the parents in far-flung areas of the country. One cannot believe that schools can be kept closed without anyone from among the officers incharge being aware of it. It would seem certain that the salaries of the missing teachers are being distributed between them without the children of the area receiving a penny worth of education. In any civilised country all the concerned officers, from top to bottom, would have been dismissed. However, such is the state of degeneration in our land that no one has bothered and there is business as usual. Why is this so? Because the teachers are happy to be paid without a days' work; the clerks are content because they are getting their share. But this cannot happen without the officers right the way up getting their share. They lose no sleep over the fact that the girls at a whole village remain illiterate. Every minister of education claims that his heart aches with the desire to be able to educate everyone. Never mind everyone, why does he not at least ensure the deliver of education to those few lucky ones in whose village a school exists? How does he justify the existence under his nose of even one ghost school? One would have thought that politicians, who need the people's votes would consider even one ghost school too many. Yet so deeply ingrained is dishonesty among our people that the teachers receive salaries for not working, the clerks, the officers, and their bosses get their cut, and everyone is hunky dory. The question is: how are these people any better than the religious militants who blow up girls' schools? The result in either case is the same, that girls don't get educated. Surely the inspectors of the schools in which they would be describing functioning schools. We all know that the country can progress only if everyone is not only educate but is provided with quality education, because the nations which have advanced in this world are those that have given the highest priority to education. Yet over here education is the last priority on anyone's list. The chief minister is working overtime to remedy the situation by opening more schools and by raising the existing ones to a higher standard. He is requested to make it clear to his officers that even one ghost school is one too many, and if even one is found in the jurisdiction of any officer, he will be dealt with most sternly. He should also have the above case investigated and take strict action. Only such an action will be effective, otherwise in the past nothing has worked. In the meantime we wait and hope. The writer is a former principal of the King Edward Medical College and president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons E-mail: drijaz@nation.com.pk