KARACHI / HYDERABAD: The provincial government has decided to hand over the management of the ailing Public School Hyderabad — the largest government school in the city — to IBA Sukkur University. But a financial hiccup may impede the smooth transition if the government dithers in approving a generous benefaction.
A meeting of the school’s Board of Governors, chaired by Hyderabad Divisional Commissioner Mohammad Abbas Baloch, on Wednesday approved this arrangement. The meeting was also attended by IBA Sukkur Vice Chancellor Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui.
“… after approval of Sindh Government an MOU [memorandum of understanding] would be signed [with IBA Sukkur University],” the commissioner told the meeting, according to a press statement. The school, located in Latifabad and spread over around 100 acres, has an enrollment of over 2,500 students from kindergarten to college level. It also provides hostel accommodation. The school’s prime land was also encroached for some time but was saved by the court order some years ago.
“Public School Hyderabad is a historical school which has been imparting quality education not only to students from Hyderabad but also from other parts of Sindh,” said Baloch. He expressed the hope that under IBA Sukkur University, the school’s old teaching standard would be restored and further improved.
Siddiqui stressed the need to revisit the educational system and change the syllabus. He also stressed upon the teachers’ training, which he considered pivotal for quality education. The VC underlined that recruitment of subject specialists on merit was necessary. Constituting parents-teachers committee and establishment of modern science lab are among some measures he considered indispensable for a holistic improvement in the standard of education and other facilities being offered by the school.
He said that by implementing these points in letter and spirit, not only would the quality of education be improved but a better administrative structure of the school could also be formed.
Political appointments and a growing difference between revenue generation and expenditures landed the school in a financial mess some years ago with the staff not receiving timely salaries and pensions. An official source, who requested anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the school’s monthly revenue from tuition fees, hostel fees, a premises rented to a bank, canteen contracts and renting school grounds to universities for admission tests was over Rs5 million.
Whereas, he added, only the salary and pension component, besides other school expenses, amounted to approximately Rs10 million, which is double the income. For the remaining amount, the school is dependent on grants from the provincial government “which mostly delays by several months the release of each grant”.
“Before the IBA Sukkur University can sign the MoU and takes over the management, Sindh government will have to provide a grant of around Rs280 million to clear the arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions since 2014,” said the official. He was of the view that the university is unlikely to take over the management until the arrears are cleared.
“The university has a reputation. It will never want to see the public school’s teachers staging demonstrations before the media complaining about unpaid salaries or arrears.” He added that if the government delayed by two more months, the arrears would accumulate to over Rs290 million.
According to him, a finance team of the university will visit the school next week to collect complete details about the assets, liabilities, income and expenditures as well as the ongoing construction projects. The IBA Sukkur University is already managing over a dozen government schools and at least seven government colleges in Sindh.
A university faculty, who did not want to be identified, told The Express Tribune that the state of the adopted government schools in Sukkur was worse than the Public School Hyderabad. Yet Dr Siddiqui has managed to transform those schools.