Rana Mashud-Aid Minister and the scandal school tsar

We give Pakistan £700m each year towards education – yet its supremo is being probed over 5,000 schools that don’t exist. Here he is… with Justine Greening

Hundreds of millions of pounds in British aid are being poured into education in Pakistan – where corrupt officials have creamed off vast amounts of cash by creating thousands of fake teaching jobs and pocketing the salaries.

A judicial inquiry in one province, Sindh, uncovered how the money was being siphoned off to as many as 5,000 schools and 40,000 teachers – which exist only on paper.

The fraud is just one of the scandals in education across Pakistan, to which Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) has committed £700 million, supposedly to help the country’s impoverished children.

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Continuing support: Justine Greening meets Rana Mashhood last year. Britain gives more aid than Australia, Canada, Holland, Italy and Spain combined. We give 0.7% of our wealth – the average for richer nations is 0.29%…the US gives 0.19%.

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Hundreds of millions of pounds in British aid are given to education in Pakistan. In one province, Sindh, a judicial inquiry found it was being siphoned off by 5,000 schools and 40,000 teachers. File image

In the state of Punjab, where school projects have been allotted £383 million of UK aid, Pakistan’s auditor general uncovered corruption on a huge scale. The investigation revealed that £35 million had disappeared from the region’s higher-education budget, including £25 million on ‘bad investments’ and hundreds of thousands in fraudulent ‘advances’ to teachers.

Although Britain does not fund higher education in the region, the damning findings confirm DFID’s own assessment of its complex ‘support programme’ in Punjab, where it rated the risk of fraud as ‘substantial’.

The Punjab schools minister is Rana Mashhood, who was pictured shaking hands with Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, during a meeting in London at the end of last year. Mr Mashhood has been under investigation since September by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau for corruption allegations unrelated to UK aid. He denies any wrongdoing. Last week, with the inquiry still ongoing, he quit as minister for higher education, sport and tourism saying that he wanted to concentrate on his schools portfolio.

And yet another scandal has arisen after DFID, in an attempt to avoid some of the problems involved in working with state governments, turned to giving money to private companies running non-government schools. DFID has since found that women teachers in ‘low-cost private schools’ are paid sweatshop wages of just 70p a day – less than a quarter the legal minimum.

 Published in Daily Mail UK

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