The recent “election” of the new chairperson of the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) has attracted widespread social media attention after it was revealed that he himself holds only a matriculation or secondary school certificate.
Established in 1991, PEF is an autonomous statutory body to encourage and promote education on non-commercial/non-profit basis. Since then, it has come a long way to arrange free quality education for the deserving children at their doorsteps.
On July 27, the first meeting of the newly-constituted Board of Governors (BoG) of the PEF was held in which the members, through consensus, elected Sardar Aftab Akbar as the new chairperson.
According to the Punjab Assembly’s official website, the academic qualification of Akbar, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA from PP-23 (Chakwal-III), is matriculation. He has served as the tehsil nazim in Chakwal from 2005 to 2010, while still serves as a member of the Primary and Secondary Healthcare as well as Committee on Privileges of the Punjab Assembly.
It is pertinent to mention here that the PEF has been in the limelight these days for non-payment to its partner schools across Punjab. The owners and teaching and non-teaching staff of PEF partner schools had protested recently outside the Punjab Assembly and the Governor House. They had even tried to reach Zaman Park over the non-payment issue that has made them unable to pay salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff besides clearing building rents and utility bills etc.
Punjab School Education Minister Dr Murad Raas, with regard to non-payments, says that PEF had already paid 50 per cent of the payment to the schools and remaining payment would be made only after verification of the students enrolled in these schools. He said previously some 250,000 fake enrolments were detected at many PEF partner schools and since millions of rupees were to be paid to the schools, verification of students was a must.
The minister said many PEF partner schools were in fact beneficiaries of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the government would not waste public money on fake enrolments. He said the PEF initiative was aimed to bring out of school children into schools and not to financially support fake enrolments. Dr Muard Raas further said he had also apprised Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan about the issue in a recent meeting who had assured full support.