islamabad - Shortage of funds has halted the progress of vocally advocated Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Program (PMERP), which was introduced for the up-gradation of public sector educational institutes under Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), an official said on Thursday.

The Project Management Unit (PMU) was established at the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to implement the project and to upgrade the infrastructure of the institutions.

The official informed The Nation that Rs2.74billion were allocated for the infrastructure and development of 200 educational institutes but the funds lapsed as they were not released during the last fiscal year.

“Only Rs1 billion was released near the end of last fiscal year and it was difficult to utilize the funds in the limited timeframe,” the official said.

The official also said that the next instalment in connection with the infrastructure development has not been released yet.

The official informed The Nation that a minimal amount was awarded to the Project Director to initiate the work in educational institutes while the remaining amount was surrendered to the finance ministry.

The official at CADD said that during three months time, only 50 educational institutes have been up-graded so far.

According to him, Rs1.75 billion has been allocated for the next fiscal and will be released on demand by the CADD but so far the previous amount has not been released.

An official at PMU informed The Nation that only Rs100 million was released to initiate the project which was too low to cover the number of schools in a short time period.

The official also said that the project is waiting for release of Rs87 million from the ministry.

“Two contractors have been hired for the implementation on the project and several clusters have been formed dividing the federal capital in urban and rural areas,” said the official.

The rural and girls educational institutes are given priority in the project but the entire procedure has slowed down and waiting for the release of funds.

A senior official close to the project said that release of funds in government sector has a procedure which is approved through planning and finance.

“No doubt the non-releasing of funds has a negative impact on the project,” he said.

Meanwhile, a college principal who wished anonymity complained regarding the strategy of the project, he said that there is no coordination in the implementation of the project.

“The amount received in the project was not even utilized with any proper planning,” he said.

He said two private firms were given the contract which further awarded it to sub-contractors.

“The contractors instead of focusing the quality are in rush of getting more work in a bid to compete with each other,” he said.

Talking to The Nation, President Federal Government Teachers Association (FGTA) Malik Ameer Khan said that PMERP was an appreciable project but its pace must be increased to facilitate the students.

In the first phase of PMERP, infrastructure development of 200 educational institutions was to be upgraded out of 400 only 22 institutes were upgraded in the pilot project while the remaining 200 will be upgraded in next phase.

Spokesperson CADD, Atique-ur-Rehman talking to The Nation said that PMERP is fully operational and the process has not slowed down.

He said that there is an official process of funds release and in case of lapse the funds would be re-appropriated.