Planning ministry rejects PC-I for third phase of education reforms programme

  • Project director says second phase to be completed by end of April

ISLAMABAD: The Planning and Development Division put the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) in an embarrassing situation after the PC-I prepared by CADD for Phase-III of the Prime Minister Education Reforms Programme (PMERP) has been rejected straightaway due to non-completion of the Phase-II of the programme, it was learnt reliably.

The CADD prepared PC-I for Phase-III of the PMERP for the up-gradation and renovation of the remaining 200 educational institutes, costing Rs3 billion, in the last month and forwarded it to Planning and Development Division for approval.

However, sources told Pakistan Today that the planning ministry rejected the PC-I on the pretext that the CADD ministry had yet to complete the second phase of the programme so far, so how funds could be released for the third phase.

They said that the planning ministry voiced serious concerns over the slow pace of work on the up-gradation and renovation of the 200 educational institutes of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) in the second phase. They added that Rs3 billion was planned to be utilised for the renovation of remaining 200 schools and colleges in the third phase of the programme.

A senior official wishing anonymity told Pakistan Today that the up-gradation work of the public-sector schools under Phase-II of the PMERP is going at a snail’s pace due to a delay in the release of funds.
The much-need programme was initiated by the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2015 to upgrade facilities in 423 schools and colleges in the federal capital, functioning under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).

Ironically, however, only 22 schools and colleges have been upgraded so far despite a lapse of several years, and the work on up-gradation of 200 schools and colleges will continue in the second phase while the renovation of the remaining 200 educational institutes is planned in the third phase of the project.
The official said that the most disturbing fact was that the contractors were using substandard materials in the upgraded educational institutes due to the absence of an effective monitoring and accountability mechanism.

The official said that the main contractor outsourced the projects to various contractors who were using substandard materials on the pretext of the non-release of the funds. Resultantly, the daily-wage labourers faced great hardships.

“The contractors resort to strange strategy to leave the work half-done in order to press the authority to ensure the release of funds,” the official added.

The contractors blamed the government for not clearing their bill timely, as they had already spent a hefty amount from their pockets. Therefore, they were in no position to make further spending from their pockets.

When contacted, Project Director Waqas Ahmed said that the work on the renovation and up-gradation of educational institutes is going on, but he accepted it could not be completed so far. However, he said that the second phase of the project would likely be completed by the end of April this year.

Waqas said that the work was not delayed because of outsourcing the project by the main contractor to other contractors, which he said was a common practice as no contractor himself had sufficient manpower and equipment to carry out all the work himself. However, he added that the slow pace of release of the much-needed funds mainly caused the delay in the project.

He confirmed that the planning ministry rejected the funds for the third phase due to non-completion of the second phase of the project.