No school open in Maroof district: residents
KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Residents of Maroof district of southern Kandahar province say there is no school in the district and salaries in the name of teachers are pocketed by strongmen.
However, officials deny the allegation. They say schools are open in Maroof district where thousands of students are enrolled.
The residents reject claim of province officials that dozens of schools are operational and insist in real there is no school.
A resident of Ishaqzai village of Maroof district, Daro Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News children in their area had been deprived of education for years. “No one has ever paid heed to address this issue.”
He confirmed there was no school in the entire district and rebuked the official claim.
“People who are economically sound send their children to Kandahar City, Kabul and Quetta for education and the penniless are forced to send their children into hard labour.”
Khan said local residents evinced keen interest in education compared to the people of other districts.
He said the Taliban were also not against schools which had been closed for unknown reasons.
Another resident of Shikhzo village of the district, Nasrullah, said schools existed in their town only on papers and salaries went into bank accounts of powerful men disguised as teachers.
He said the district education officer was living in Kandahar City where his children went to school.
“If schools are open and functional here, why the education head has admitted his children in the city?”
Nasrullah alleged the district’s education department director, local officials and some so-called tribal elders had deliberately shut the schools because they pocketed salaries in the name of teachers.
Maroof district is among cold areas where the academic year starts as solar year begins. Local residents urged the government to reopen the schools by taking practical steps.
Resident Naimatullah said a school named ‘Daro Nika School’ existed in their district, but the students had been asked to attend classes only when a monitoring delegation arrived.
He said there were video clips that showed students were gathered at the school to show the visiting officials that the school was operational.
Naimatullah said even security post commanders had a share in the salaries coming in the name of teachers.
A resident of Maroof district and member of the provincial council, Janan Gulzai, said one high school and 30 primary schools only on paper in the district.
“Except for two or three partially operational schools, the rest of are closed.” The closure of schools had forced residents to send their children to Kandahar City for education.
He agreed salaries of ‘ghost teachers’ were distributed among a number of strongmen, former commanders, tribal elders, and imams.
Gulzai said he had many times shared the issue with the governor and central officials.
The governor delayed the salaries for just a few months and released them after the district education officer presented some individuals as teachers.
The public representative said he had met CEO Abdullah Abdullah and had taken up the matter with him.
“I told Abdullah to reopen the schools and utilize the money in constructing hostels for students of the district in Kandahar City,” he said.
Maroof district education director Maulvi Mohammad Shafiq denied schools were closed in the district.
He told Pajhwok that some people who hadn’t visited the district in the past 15 years believed all schools were closed there.
“About 35 primary schools and one high school were operational in the district last year when 634 teachers hired on short-term contracts taught to 11,270 students.”
He said the only issue was lack of buildings for two schools in the district.
He said most of schools in villages and rural areas were operating under shades of trees, in people’s guest houses and in mosques.
He confirmed Governor Maroof Azizi had suspended salaries of teachers before sending a delegation to the district to find out the reality.
Later when more than 300 tribal elders, prayer leaders, teachers and influential figures from the district met the provincial education director and lodged their protest over the suspension, the provincial administration was eventually forced to resume giving salaries to the ‘teachers’.
In response to people’s allegation that there was no school, he said why would more than 300 tribal elders, teachers, imams lie to them.
Shafiq said efforts were underway to construct buildings for schools and construction of five buildings had already been approved, but practical works were yet to be launched due to paucity of budget.
Provincial acting education director Mohibullah Qaderi held similar views. He said the delegation sent by the governor to the district had confirmed schools were operational in the district.
Therefore the salaries were again initiated and the governor directed the salaries to be distributed through a joint delegation instead of the education department to prevent possible embezzlement.
Names of some 96 individuals who had been receiving salaries in unprincipled manner, were omitted from the district education department staff, he added.
He said rumors and false claims about schools in the district were made by those who weren’t aware of the reality.
Qaderi said they were ready to provide an opportunity to people who had been misled through false propaganda.
The Kandahar governor’s spokesman, Samim Khpalwak, also confirmed salaries to Maroof teachers remained suspended for a few months.
After investigation, he said, the reality was determined and it was decided to distribute salaries by a joint delegation.
About 224 schools are reportedly shut in Kandahar, however the Education Department admits the closure of only 150 schools.
Interestingly, the Ministry of Education’s planning department puts the number of schools closed in Kandahar at 158 and the National Directorate of Security (NDS)’s provincial department puts the number at 149.
According to findings of some delegation, 33 schools have been closed in Maroof district alone.
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