50% govt schools functioning without electricity in metropolis

KARACHI:06 september: More than 50 percent government schools in Karachi are being run without electricity as the provincial government for the last five years has failed to allocate funds in the budget for clearance of arrears, Daily Times has learnt.

Sources in Sindh's Schools Education Department (SED), informed that there is no budget allocated in the annual budget 2016-17 for the payment of electricity dues resultantly electricity supply to many schools had been disconnected. The concerned SED's officers had lodged complaints with the higher authorities but it fell on deaf ears.

"We requested the K-Electric and assured them that funds will be arranged to pay the bills in coming days but at present we do not have funds available with us to pay the electricity bills", an officer of the Directorate of Schools Karachi claimed, added that the KE has restored supply of electricity to some of the schools for the short period with the condition that all the arrears will be cleared.

Sources said that the arrears are accounted to Rs 150 million that are urgently needed to pay for the restoration of electricity in the schools. In this connection, a draft summary of Rs 110 million was sent to the SED's top officials by the directorate but the draft has not been approved yet, he lamented.

Contrary to this, the concerned officials of the department have asked the District Education Officers (DEOs) for the details regarding the electricity consumption and KE's due bills. The DEOs have sent the required information to the SED which is mostly about the amount of money being spent at each school on the account of electricity.

Although, Secretary Education and Education Minister have claimed to have enhanced and improved the education sector but on the ground no tangible progress has been made so far. Reportedly, the enrollment in government schools has dropped by 50 percent during past ten years besides education standard is worsening day by day in those state-run schools.

Educationists believe that the main reasons behind the deteriorating academic environment of government schools are lack of basic facilities and shortage of qualified teaching staff for the students.

It is pertinent to mention here that KE had disconnected the electricity supply of 1457 schools of Karachi's region in March 2017. The schools are liable to pay Rs 234.8 million to the utility on the account of electricity.

SED's officials negotiated with KE's officials and agreed to pay the bills to get the electricity restored. However, the SED failed to honor its commitment that forced the KE to disconnect power supply of schools including directorate of schools.
Published in Daily Times, September 5th 2017.