Islamabad: Ghost schools "exist on paper and never operate", said a leading Pakistani daily that lamented the continuing emergency in the country`s education system.
An editorial in the News International Saturday observed that if Pakistan had as many schools in reality as it does on paper there would be no crisis in the education sector, and "we might be able to fulfil our constitutional commitment to free education for all".
It noted that education budgets were actually shrinking rather than expanding to match the growth in population.
"And now we see the return of `ghost schools` in the context of a federal government education project - the Basic Education Community Schools (BECS).
"Ghost schools exist on paper and never operate, but they have `staff` and sometimes buildings. The fictitious `staff` are paper creatures and only live on a balance sheet, their wages disappearing into an assortment of corrupt pockets," said the daily.
The editorial said the Planning Commission and the National Education Foundation have alleged that there are more than 8,000 ghost schools in the BECS project and they are spread right across the country, including in the federal capital.
"There is some dispute about the actual number of ghosts in our midst, but no dispute that the BECS programme has serious problems. There are 13,094 schools under the BECS umbrella and more than half may be bogus," it added.