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6,000 schools in dire straits

KARACHI, Oct 12, 2007: At least 6,000 schools in the province are running without the schedule of new expenditure (SNE) and the education department hopes most of them will be given the staff and facilities long overdue during the current fiscal year (2007-08).

Most of the schools are running with insufficient staff carved out by the provincial education department from other schools and without facilities, officials said.

They said the government had allocated some Rs500 million for the SNE of these schools, which too was not sufficient to meet all needs of the neglected schools, but at least it would provide something to ensure their survival.

A senior official said the education department had prepared an allocation plan for those schools and had sent to the finance department for formal approval."Once the approval is given, which is a matter of days, the SNEs will be issued to these schools," provincial education department secretary Sabhago Khan Jatoi said.

According to the figures Mithi (Thar) is one of the most affected districts of Sindh where more than 800 schools are running without SNEs. Similarly, figures show that some 400 schools are in Shikarpur, 157 in Sukkur and 152 in Umerkot, which have no funds of their own to hire teaching and non-teaching staff.

At present less than half of the over 40,000 schools in Sindh have the basic facilities, including drinking water, electricity, toilets, boundary walls, playgrounds etc.

The condition of the schools without SNEs is said to be the worst given no money had been available for decades for their improvement both academic and physical.

The number of teachers at schools is a matter of grave concern for officials as the situation became graver due to the ban on the government jobs. The lifting of the ban lately has somehow brought some relief to the department.

Mr Jatoi said the department would soon employ some 17,000 new teachers for primary and secondary schools and further recruitment could be made when and where it deemed necessary.

Officials said that over 70 of the 238 colleges in Sindh are also running without SNEs for which the government has allocated some Rs200 million for this fiscal year.

"With this money the shortage of lecturers will also be overcome," said Mr Jatoi.

The department has hired 741 ad-hoc lecturers and needs some 1,300 more to meet the academic needs of the deficient colleges. Dawn

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