KARACHI - Sindh Education Minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro on Monday said the registration of schoolchildren across the Sindh had come down considerably due to closure of schools, non-attendance of teachers and poverty of the children’s parents.

He was responding to a question from Pakistan Muslim League Functional leader Nusrat Sehar Abbasi on distribution of free textbooks in district Khairpur.

The statistics revealed that in the academic year 2009-10, 3,69,217 students were given free textbooks in district Khairpur schools. The number of schoolchildren dropped to 332,381 in the academic year 2013-14. The statistics revealed a drop of 36,836 students in four years.

He said the government was taking action against ghost teachers while schools were also adopted by civil society members to help increase children registration in schools. He said a total of 167 schools were adopted in Sindh by different civil society organisations. “Karachi remained a favourite city for civil society to adopt schools as 104 schools including 71 primary, nine elementary and 24 secondary schools have been adopted,” he said. There is a proper adoption process which only provides administrative powers to the adopting party while other things including staff, property and curriculum was appointed and managed by the Sindh government. He said the adopting party could also face termination of the contract and fine in case of violations of the adoption rules.

The education minister said there were 43,000 schools in Sindh therefore government had decided to place a ban on construction of new schools, however, renovation and rehabilitation of schools could be done. There are also committees at school levels that have funds to carry out their renovation. “There are even 90 schools in a union council that was far more than needed in the area as compared to its children population,” he said. These schools were approved with an intention of corruption and pleasing someone.

Khuhro said the government would recruit new teachers on merit through NTS testing in order to overcome shortage of teachers in the schools and expel ghost teachers. “We have recruited 2,000 teachers this year.” he said. They had placed ban on deputation and transfer postings in the department and the teachers could only be transferred after serving for three years at one position.

Meanwhile, PML-F leader Imtiaz Sheikh pointed out lack of attention on the schools in Shikarpur. He said even a single girls’ school lacks furniture, forcing the girls to study on ground. “Rupees 50 million was sanctioned by the education department but was used in corrupt practices,” he said.

Sindh Assembly speaker Agha Siraj Durrani - who also hails from the same area - asked the minister as to why despite his repeated calls, furniture was not provided to the girls’ school. Khuhro said the provision of furniture was a long process, however, he would made his efforts to sanction it on immediate basis.