Govt fails to utilise Rs2.5bn grant for rebuilding schools
           
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By Mohammad Ashfaq | 9/2/2015 12:00:00 AM
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has failed to prepare a plan in three years for the utilisation of over Rs2.5 billion grant pledged by the USAID for the reconstruction of 100 government schools destroyed by floods in 2010, according to sources.

They said that the USAID was ready to release the pledged $25 million (over Rs2.5 billion) for reconstruction of schools destroyed by the floods, but the authorities concerned were yet to come up with a plan about the utilisation of the pledged money.

They said that studies of students of the flood-hit schools were still being affected because their schools had been functioning either in rented buildings or in tents.

The sources claimed that usuallythe provincial communication and works department constructed the buildings, but keeping in view the past experience the USAID had expressed reservations about its performance for its delay in completion of works.

The USAID has also financed the reconstruction of 117 government schools destroyed by militants in Malakand division, mostly in Swat.

The sources said that the project was to be completed by 2013, but the C&W could construct only 96 schools so far while work on rest of the buildings was in progress.

In 2012, when the USAID pledged to rebuild 100 more government schools with the estimated cost of $25 million, it refused to construct such schools through the C&W.

After correspondence between the provincial government and USAID, both agreed that the Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA) would establish a reconstruction unit to ensure quality of work and speedy reconstruction of the schools destroyed by the floods.

Some of the staff members, including engineers, were hired by PaRRSA for the reconstructionunit a year ago, the sources said.

The PaRRSA has also established the standard operating procedure and different committees on the level of divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners for the utilization of USAID`s pledged money.

The sources said that with the help of the elementary and secondary education department PaRRSA had also identified the schools to be reconstructed in different districts.

According to the list, 11 schools each have been identified for reconstruction in Swat and Lower Dir, nine in Upper Dir, seven in Malakand, six each in Charsadda and Dera Ismail Khan and four in Nowshera district.

The sources said that identification of the remaining schools and recruitment of staff for the reconstruction unit was in progress when the provincial government withdrew from its agreed commitment ofconstructingschools throughthe reconstruction unit.

They said that the government insisted that the C&W would construct buildings of the schools while the USAID stuck to its earlier stance that it was ready to construct schools through any department except C&W.When contacted, the US Embassy spokesperson in Islamabad said: `The US Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a $25 million agreement with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in 2012 to repair and rebuild flood-damaged schools. We remain committed to our government-to-government support and are anticipating a proposal from the KP government regarding the implementation of these funds. We deeply value our partnership with the KP government, and are eager to support its efforts to get children back into the classroom.

Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary EducationDepartmentMohammad Atif Khan, when contacted on the issue, said that he didn`t know about the reasons for stoppage of the reconstruction of flood-damaged schools.

`Whosoever wants to reconstruct our schools, let them do as we need schools,` he said. The minister told this scribe that he would ascertain the latest development on the issue and would let him know. However, this scribe tried to contact him time and again for his comments, but he didn`t respond.
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