MoE begins further probe

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Education (MoE) has constituted a three-member committee to investigate into the issues pointed out by the probe team led by National Planning Commission member Dr Tirtha Raj Khaniya over irregularities in the distribution of relief teachers' quota.

According to a decision of the MoE taken on Wednesday, the team comprising joint-secretary at the ministry Dr Lavadev Awasthi, director of the Department of Education (DoE) Prakash Raj Pande and under-secretary at the school education section of the ministry Laxman Khanal has been given five days to further probe into the matter and prepare a report.

Dr Khaniya's team had earlier submitted its report to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who, according to education minister Sarvendra Nath Shukla, asked the latter to take necessary action in his capacity. The probe had suggested systemic flaws in the distribution of the teachers' quota and had recommended that those distributed without the decision of District Education Committees (DEC) be nullified.

As per the preliminary suggestion of the newly-formed panel, the ministry will dispatch five teams to districts in which irregularities have been sensed to point out where such unlawful activities took place and who was responsible for that, it was revealed in a press conference today. The DoE, Regional Education Directorates and District Education Offices will be instructed to keep up-to-date record of relief quota and per capita funding (PCF) within 45 days.

Minister Shukla said the quotas will be distributed only during the current fiscal since schools will be supported under the PCF system thenceforth. "The ministry will not spare anyone involved in irregularities. Those falling outside the jurisdiction of the education ministry will be suggested action from authorities concerned," the minister committed. "I should be punished too if the probe finds me guilty."

Quota distributed without following the due procedure will bounce back to the DECs while all of them will be redistributed among deserving schools over the next three months. Posts filled without conducting an open competition will be vacated to pave way for holding another selection process. Shukla said the ministry was having frequent consultations with donor agencies that suspended aid following a probe by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee into the matter.