STAFF REPORT ISB: A ghost teacher problem in Pakistan that had grown so bad and led to the closure of thousands of schools is finally being addressed through biometrics.
The problem was much worse than the standard ghost employee issue where fake or former workers exploit bureaucratic holes to continue drawing monthly salaries.
In Pakistan, particularly its southern Balochistan and Sindh provinces, entire shadow schools were still being funded although the facilities were long abandoned.
By 2013, the problem was costing the country billions of rupees per year and being blamed for the closure of more than 5,000 schools.
These closures represented lost opportunities for millions of children, Transparency International wrote in a damning report published that year.
“Shadow schools perpetuate cycles of abject poverty, child labour and unemployment and compound poor performance in education indicators”, wrote the anti-corruption watchdog.
To finally tackle the issue, a World Bank-backed project launched last year has seen biometric solutions supplied by South Carolina-based Integrated Biometrics help local authorities exorcise the ghosts.
Although the system only launched in May 2015, the identities of some 84,000 out of 150,000 teachers had been verified by October.