In a bizarre incident, it has come to light that the previous Congress government in Assam allowed enrollment of more than 3 lakh 'ghost' students in government schools of the state. This fact has emerged in a review meeting of the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan. These students who existed only on documents were enrolled from Class I to Class XII.
In the meeting, chaired by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, it was observed that the enrolment figure of all government and provincialised schools was 46,69,970 from class I to XII in 2018-19 academic session which is lower than 49,82,180 of 2016-17 session. The Chief Minister was then informed that more than 3 lakh 12 thousand were identified as 'ghost' children that were registered during the previous regime.
It has been revealed that the previous government had shown these fake figures of 'ghost' children in government schools of the state for embezzling public money in the name of textbook, mid-day meal, uniform etc for these non-existent students. Taking strong note, Chief Minister Sonowal said that strict action would be initiated against those found guilty.
'Ghost' children are basically fake individuals who do not exist in reality. However, due to loopholes in the system, they become a reality on documents. The benefits alloted in their names, such as money of mid-day meal, uniforms etc goes into the pockets of school authorities, some corrupt officials of the education department, local politicians etc.
This is not the first time that such fake beneficiaries have been identified. Earlier too, in many centrally funded schemes, fake beneficiaries were detected and deleted. Major scam of fake beneficiaries took place particularly in the MNREGA scheme, which guaranteed work to unemployed people.
It may be noted that the meeting also discussed provincialisation of 100 schools in tea garden areas. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also directed the senior officials of the education department to visit schools regularly with clear objectives. The meeting was also attended by Education Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya along with other top officials of the department.