After they did not receive any information on the action taken by the authorities against Nganglam Central School’s admission committee, the aggrieved parties earlier this month lodged a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to look into corrupt practice in the school.
Kuensel learnt that the complaint alleged that the school authority, committee members, teachers and parents committed an offence as per Chapter 4, section 58, 59, 63 and 65 of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011. The section contains acts amounting to abuse of function, omission amounting to abuse of function, conflict of interest and abuse of privileged information.
The complaint to ACC has come after the Public Services and Grievances Redressal Division (PSGRD) closed the case of allegations that was filed through eKaaSel to the Prime Minister against the admission committee after the education ministry submitted its action taken report (ATR) to the Cabinet secretariat last month.
An official from PSGRD said they closed the case based on the education ministry’s letter presuming that the issue was redressed.
The Cabinet secretariat (CS), however, has not received details on the actions taken by the dzongkhag administration. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said they received a letter from education ministry stating that they asked the Pemagatshel dzongkhag administration to take appropriate action against the committee members, who are civil servants.
The ministry was directed by the CS in April this year to take action against the committee members for not taking their responsibility with due diligence while admitting students for class pre-primary (PP) for the academic year 2018.
Officials from PSGRD with the Cabinet secretariat investigated and concluded that allegations filed through eKaaSel to the Prime Minister were valid. Except for one child, other allegations of manipulating birth certificates of six students were found true and that opportunities were deprived to those who submitted genuine certificates, the investigation team found.
The ATR submitted to the CS and PSGRD, according to the prime minister, stated that the ministry has asked the dzongkhag administration to revoke admission of six students and take disciplinary action against the civil servants, including health officials, who were involved in tampering documents and violating admission ethics.
The education ministry’s letter also stated that the unethical practice used by the civil servants is against the civil service values and conduct under the Bhutan Civil Service Rule and Regulations (BCSRR) 2018.
The ministry also directed the dzongkhag administration to take supervisory administrative action against the principal of Nganglam central school and appropriate action against six parents/guardians of six students for tampering of documents and manipulating date of birth of their children.
The BCSRR states that a supervisor shall be liable for administrative actions for any major corruption or grave official misconduct of his subordinates even if the supervisor concerned is not directly involved in such misdeeds.
Dzongkhag officials confirmed that they sent an ATR to the ministry two weeks ago. However, they refused to share details of actions taken against the five-member committee and some civil servants who facilitated parents in inflating the children’s date of birth.
While Kuensel has been requesting for the details of the ATR from the ministry since last month, the concerned officials refused to comment saying they haven’t received the report from the dzongkhag.
The issue related to class PP admission for the academic year 2018 came to light after some aggrieved parents filed a complaint through eKaaSel to the prime minister stating that the admission committee of five members including four teachers violated admission ethics.
The committee was alleged to have deprived the admission of 29 students from poor family background without following admission policy and notification issued by the school.
The school authority’s notification on November 6 last year stated that a child born on or before February 15, 2012 is eligible for PP admission. However, there were less number of children fulfilling the criteria and the school re-announced on December 1 that the last date of issuing admission form was December 9. Parents were asked to produce original documents during the time of interview.
The complaint alleged that contrary to the notification, the committee issued forms for 13 students during the time of interview on December 11 although the last date for issuing admission forms was December 9. “This had given an opportunity to those students to submit their tampered documents,” they stated in their complaint letter.
Since some parents could not produce original documents during the time of interview, the committee had asked the parents to submit the documents before December 16. Failing to do so would result in the admission being cancelled and the seat allocated to next child, based on merit. “We made an inquiry on December 16 regarding the admission and they told us that all original documents were submitted and admission closed for 2018 academic session,” the complaint stated.
Documents collected from the school revealed that the committee members had pre-informed or leaked information to other teachers to make fake documents within April. It’s alleged that three teachers manipulated date of birth of their children. The joint investigation team from CS and PSGRD found that the committee members have violated admission ethics, which is also against teacher’s code of conduct.