-Govt fails to build new educational institute, a hospital in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD: The out-going government of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) had set up ambitious targets in the outset to bring about revolutionary changes in the education and health sectors; however, it could not succeed in making a difference in these sectors in the federal capital during the last five years.
The government initiated over-ambitious projects such as the Prime Minister’s Education Sector Reform Programme (PMESRP) and PM National Health Programme but not one of the projects has been completed.
Despite an acute shortage of health and education facilities, the government failed to construct even a single educational institute or hospital in the metropolitan during the last five years.
The sudden emergence of the Panama scandal could be blamed since it completely shifted away focus from these projects but the incompetence of former Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, who paid the bare minimum attention to his ministry in five years, also contributed to the non-materialisation of these projects.
For half a decade, Chaudhry was seen busy in defending his leadership at every forum instead of sparing time to pay attention to his ministry’s affairs. As a result, serious differences propped up with the high-ups of his ministry and the situation further deteriorated.
According to details obtained by Pakistan Today, the government could not complete any of the projects initiated during the last five years in Islamabad; however, some progress has been made in a few areas.
PM Education Reform Programme:
The much-hyped PM’s Education Sector Reforms Programme (PMESRP) that was initiated by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in December 2015, aimed at upgrading facilities provided to 422 schools and colleges functioning under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) in the federal capital.
The project being the brainchild of Maryam Nawaz garnered her interest and it was believed that a revolutionary change would finally take place in the long-neglected education sector. However, the project suffered a huge blow due to her departure from the PM House following her father Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court (SC) in regard to the Panama Papers.
The project faced a delay due to the slow release of funds and lack of interest by the concerned minister and officials.
So far, only 22 schools and colleges have been upgraded in the first phase, 200 education institutions are in the middle of renovations and rehabilitation as part of the second phase and there are no immediate plans to start the third phase of improving the rest of the schools in sight.
The CADD ministry did not construct a single educational institute during the last five years despite the fact that students have been denied admission in schools due to capacity issues; leaving parents with no option but to enrol their children in private schools.
Daily Teachers Issue:
Apart from the improvement of physical infrastructure, recruitment of teachers based on merit was part of the agenda of the reforms programme. However, no heed has been paid to this aspect as currently, around 2,000 teaching posts are vacant.
The CADD ministry also ignored the promise to resolve the issue of some 2,800 daily wage teaching and non-teaching staff who have been running from pillar to post for the last ten years because they are not paid salaries for several months.
In the beginning, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was distracted from the issue since his priority was to adjust the people of his own constituency. When the matter caught his attention during the last few months of his tenure, he tried to make amends but faced serious resistance from the high-ups of his ministry, including former CADD secretary Azhar Ali Chaudhry.
The differences reached a level where eventually the secretary had to transfer; the problem remains unsolved.
In addition, the CADD and FDE were also supposed to purchase 200 buses for the schools; however, only 70 were purchased hitherto and the matter of procuring the remaining 130 buses is now pending.
Commencement of Montessori Classes:
It was a good idea; however, the government did little on this front despite the fact that Nawaz inaugurated the first Montessori classes at Islamabad Model School for Boys, F-8/3 in February 2016.
Initially, Montessori classes took place at five schools, including, Islamabad Model School for Boys F-8/3, Islamabad Model School for Boys F-7/1, Islamabad Model School for Boys F-10/4, Islamabad Model School for Boys, Sohan and Islamabad Model School for Boys, Khanna Daak.
The programme was launched with the help of private sector schools and NGOs who specialise in early childhood education. It was piloted in 11 schools but the target of 70 schools could not be achieved due to ill-planning and non-release of funds.
Construction of Four Hospitals:
According to the governments’ plan, 46 fully funded and equipped hospitals were to be constructed across-the-country under the Prime Minister’s Health Programme (PMHP), out of which four would be constructed in the federal capital.
Out of these four constructed hospitals, three were to have a capacity of 500 beds and the remaining one was to have a capacity of 300 beds. One of the 500-bed hospitals was promised to be constructed in Model Town, Humak at Islamabad highways junction for which 160 Kanal of land has been acquired, while another was to be built at around 170/180 Kanal of land at Kuri Road and the third was to be erected in either I-12 or H-11.
The fourth hospital with a 300 bed capacity was planned to be set up at Lethrar Road, Tramri Chowk.
However, the fact that nothing was done in this regard during the last five years strengthened the perception that health was not on PML-N’s priority list.
Similarly, the government failed to materialise the long-delayed project of extending the Federal Government Services Hospital (Polyclinic) due to which patients are facing great problems in the congested facility which is visited by 5000 Out Door Patients (OPD) daily and has to deny admission to hundreds due to the non-availability of enough beds.
Moreover, the former CADD minister’s idea to bring the Rural Health Centers (RHCs) and Basic Health Units (BUs) under the one ministry was widely welcomed. However, despite it being his own government he failed to convince the interior ministry in making the dream a reality.
Although Tariq Fazal Chaudhry failed to fulfil most of his duties; he did succeed in separating Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) from the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), which would remain one of his great achievements.