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FATA-Balochistan scholarships programme : Red-tapism puts future in doldrums

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\04\05\story_5-4-2010_pg7_1

* Education ministry advertises posts that are already filled
* Officials vying to take over project they deem lucrative

By Irfan Ghauri

ISLAMABAD: Wrangling within the bureaucracy has put the future of the Rs 481.38 million-education project for students of Balochistan and FATA in jeopardy.

Sources in the Ministry of Education told Daily Times that the government started the nine-year project – “Provision of Quality Education to Students of Balochistan and FATA” – in 2007 after the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) approved it on April 17, 2007.

The project was aimed at awarding 330 scholarships each year to students from FATA and Balochistan.

The ministry set up a separate unit called the Federal Project Management Unit to supervise the project, under which they would select 330 students from the two regions each year to place them in cadet colleges and schools across the country.

Each student selected for these institutions would receive Rs 106,000 in scholarship per year, while those selected for technical colleges would get Rs 40,000.

Under PC-1, 18 officials were approved to run the project, but only three officials – a BPS-19 deputy project director, an assistant project director in BPS-18 and a peon have been appointed so far.

Although 250 students have been enrolled, the project has been hit by usual bureaucratic bickering. Vacant posts are yet to be filled.

Advertisement: Recently the ministry placed two separate, contradictory advertisements in newspapers.

One of the advertisements sought potential candidates for to eight posts to be filled, including that of the project director in BPS-20.

A subsequent advertisement was published seeking applications from suitable candidates to fill nine vacant posts.

The second ad did not mention the earlier one, but included two posts – a deputy director and that of an assistant director –, which had already been filled.

When contacted, officials concerned had no clue about the appointment to the rest of the vacant posts.

Project eye: However, the mystery was solved when Daily Times attained a copy of internal correspondence of some of the senior ministry officials.

In a letter dated February 2, 2010, Deputy Education Adviser Muhammad Ismail asked his joint education adviser to place the project under his wing.

A paragraph of the letter said “one officer not less than BS-19 must sit daily for two hours minimum in the project office, to oversee the project and to make a gradual shift of responsibilities from these officers (project deputy director and assistant director) to the training wing”.

It is feared that if this internal strife is not checked, the fate of the project would be the same as that of many others before it, with the students of Balochistan and FATA, whose schools were blown up by militants, being the ultimate sufferers.

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