Thursday, November 10, 2005

Same Story, Second Round

The Pakistan earthquake last month was devestating and killed 80,000 people. The records are showing that half of those were children. Statistics show that 10,000 schools collapsed during the shaking, taking down with them the promise of the next generation. If you think 10,000 collapsed schools is a ridiculously high number, then I agree with you.

From the Christian Science Moniter:

Some 8,000 schools collapsed in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), and 2,000 in Pakistan's less-populous Kashmir region. All the schools collapsed in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, reports the Associated Press.

It is widely recognized that, because of crumbling schools like this, children suffered the greatest blow from the October quake. The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that children account for about half the 80,000 killed in the quake. Uncertainty clouds the future of many of those who survived.


The problem with government schools is that there is so much corruption with construction that many materials are not used," says Sameen Mehmood Jan, an opposition member of the NWFP provincial assembly.

Experts estimate that between 30 and 60 percent of funds for government buildings, including schools, are siphoned off by corrupt officials. Contractors squeezed by such kickbacks have less to spend on materials, experts explain, resulting in poor quality buildings.

"This was a common practice throughout Pakistan, but particularly in NWFP. We've been tolerating this kind of corruption in Pakistan for years," says Ms. Gohar.

Observers say corruption in Pakistan has picked up in the past few decades, particularly since the 1970s, when banks and industries were nationalized, and when international aid pouring into the country, following another large-scale earthquake, was allegedly pocketed by corrupt officials.

Of course, there's no plans right now to prevent this second set of earthquake funds from being eaten up by corruption.

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