Quite recently, millions of rupees embezzled by schools heads in purchasing tabs to facilitate digital cheating. This was done as a reciprocal tactic by School Education Department to counter PITB’s monitoring mechanism set for checking student performance in schools, More News learned.
Currently, 1143 Monitoring and Evaluation Assistants (MEA’s) have been employed by PITB, who are retired army personnel to monitor teacher attendance, facilitation, school environment, availability of necessary facilities including the performance monitoring of students in each of 53,000 schools of Punjab.
In this regard, the Punjab Information Technology Board adopted an E-Reporting system.
Previously, the monitoring of schools was done through manual forms in which the element of fake data entry and “at home filing” was enormous. Monitoring personnel used to fill the forms at home and send tempered data to the authorities because of which on the ground situation in public schools was nearly impossible to determine.
For making the reports reliable and instant, Huawei Tabs, equipped with the home-made app were given to these MEAs so that their geographic location, as well as other necessary details, could be reported correctly.
Today, when a PITB monitor reaches a school, he is required to take his and head teacher picture and the picture of the school. The data is landed on PITB’s servers along with the geographical location and other necessary data.
Furthermore, as a part of getting an actual evaluation of the students and the teaching quality at the schools, the MAE has also been assigned to take the test of the randomly selected students with the help of an LND app (Quick Test Public) which is already installed on their tabs.
Developed by PITB, the app has processed over 15 million questions and 2.5 million students till date. The process of assessment was started in September 2015, and the entire data is stored on the central system of PITB.
The performance data which is set to be made public by PITB in the coming months is a threat to the deep-rooted and poorly managed school administration of the whole province.
Resistance against evaluation system
The fear of losing jobs and performance results getting public, the officials of school education department, EDOs and DCOs ordered the school heads to purchase “Tabs of their Choice” at “Their Own Expense” i-e from the available school funds.
As a part of an effort to counter the random assessment through MEAs and sabotage the entire theme, the purpose of this immediate procurement was to train the students through “Rote Learning” and continuous practice of question-answers through the very same app which is also available on Google Play.
However, we have found out that in most of the districts these orders were delivered verbally, but in some cases, these were written orders by the Assistant Education Officers (AEOs) to the schools in their areas.
Nevertheless, verbal or written, each and every school in Punjab has bought one Tab from its own school fund.
Below image shows one such order by an AEO.
As the model and specs were not mentioned in the directive, the little school fund in the primary schools of Punjab was “used” for purchasing tabs of various make.
Reliable sources in the department have shared some of the exclusive documents with us in a bid to take the matter to the higher level.
To keep the anonymity of our sources intact, we have removed the names of schools, head teachers, focal person, phone numbers and centers, tehsil and district names from the data.
If you look at the above picture, it is quite evident that within a week, these schools have purchased different models of Tabs ranging from Rs. 7500 to Rs. 24,000. The amount “spent” on the procurement of these tabs was dependent on the available amount in the school fund.
The irony of the fact is that no district in Punjab has a mechanism to monitor the purchase of these tabs.
Second hand & Replica instead of new tabs
According to our findings into the scam, we have found out that in many cases second hand and replica models have been purchased in the name of brand new tabs. This was made possible because the model, specs, and amount were not mentioned in the orders, which is evident from the letter sent to schools by the government.
While talking to More, various AEOs confirmed that due to lack of monitoring mechanism, we only rely on the report submitted to us by the schools.
“How could we know who bought what model and at what price. There was nothing such binding in the official communication to the schools. The only proof of purchase we have is the data submitted by them”, confessed AEOs of various regions.
In several cases, school heads bought cheap tablets and utilized the remaining school fund for their personal needs. Where tabs of reasonable specs have been purchased, they are reportedly in use in their homes.
Overall, millions of Rupees Embezzled by School Heads and there is no exact mechanism with the district administration to establish a check and balance.
Interestingly, each school purchased one tab, which is highly insufficient for training a class of several dozens of students.
In actual, it is a perfect example of misusing funds at disposal. Whether this exercise would prepare students for the random assessment tests of PITB or not, but surely, it has deprived hundred of schools of their precious funds which is usually spent for minor expenses like stationery, repairing of furniture, postal expenditures, immediate support for destitute students and refreshment of teachers.
It is high time that authorities in the education department stop trying to cheat the systems designed for making the public education system better.
Clarification : This story “Millions of rupees Embezzled by Schools Heads in purchasing Tabs” is an updated story as we have taken our story on Embezzlement in E-Learn Program Back after a briefing by Chairman PITB Dr. Umar Saif. Since, E-Learn is a different program and has no link with the embezzlement which is solely done by School heads of the Public Schools in Punjab. The following story stands true as per our earlier findings.