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The director of ‘ICT for Education in Secondary and Higher Secondary Level, Phase II’ project, Md Abdus Sabur Khan has been made OSD (officer on special duty) as the corruption allegations against him were found to be true.

Sabur Khan has been attached to the secondary and higher education directorate, which was implementing the project.

The education ministry issued a circular in this regard on Tuesday. The circular also said deputy director of the project, Zakir Hossain, will carry out the routine tasks as a project director.

So far eight per cent of the Tk 13.53 billion-project is completed but it is rife with corruption. More than one investigation done by the government also revealed this corruption.

The project basically had two objectives. One was to equip classrooms with multimedia and the other was to train the teachers and officials to use the multimedia in conducting classes.

The government had intended to set up multimedia classrooms at the secondary and higher secondary level in 31,340 institutions around the country. And 575,000 teachers were to be trained in running the hi-tech classrooms. But nothing has come about due to the corruption of the government officials in charge. But the accused officials remain firmly in their posts. Only the classrooms remain vacant.

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Prothom Alo carried out a report ‘Multimedia project is in a mess’ on 3 January. The project term was of four years and it was extended by another year. Six months have passed since then, but in these four and a half years, not a single multimedia classroom has been set up in any of the institutions under this project.

The secondary and higher education directorate is implementing this project, titled ‘ICT for Education in Secondary and Higher Secondary Level, Phase II ’. The extended term will end in June this year.

The Directorate of Inspection and Audit (DIA) of the education ministry investigated the project’s corruption. It was said that so far around 150,000 teachers and officials had been trained under the project. According to the inquiry report, training has been carried out in 20 places around the country. Project director Md Abdus Sabur Khan has drawn around Tk 1.7 million (Tk 17 lakh) in honorarium for three months signing as ‘programme director,’ without even being present at any of the training programmes. Many others have similarly misappropriated government funds in this manner, in the name of training.

Investigations also revealed that even before the procurement process began, Tk 7.50 million (Tk 75 lakh) worth of training equipment was procured. And Tk 22.50 million (Tk 2 crore 25 lakh) was spent without any tender or purchase orders. Around another Tk 2.10 million (Tk 21 lakh) was spent in violations of the rules.

This Tk 13.53 billion (Tk 1,353 crore) project began in July 2016. Around Tk 8.55 billion (Tk 855 crore) was allocated for the procurement of multimedia classroom equipment. And Tk 4.31 billion (Tk 431 crore) was allocated for training purposes. The rest was for other miscellaneous expenses of the project.

Four types of equipment were to be purchased for the multimedia classrooms. These were laptops, multimedia projectors with screens, internet modems and speakers. Each set would have these four components. A total of 46,445 sets were to be procured. The project had proposal for a number of institutions to receive several sets.

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Till Sunday, not a single institution received a single full set of equipment. Randomly, 13,574 modems had been sent out, but these cannot be used without laptops and the other equipment.

Before the present project director joined, work on the tender to purchase the multimedia equipment had been completed. But due to allegations of irregularities, the procurement was halted upon orders from a high level in the government. A legal case is also underway in this regard. The project director at the time was removed. Since then, nothing has moved in the project under its present director Abdus Sobhan. There has only been corruption and irregularities.

Sources in the secondary and higher secondary directorate has said that other than DIA, an inquiry led by a director of the directorate has also revealed irregularities in the project. The Anti-Corruption Commission is also probing the allegations.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, secretary of the secondary and higher secondary division of the education ministry, Md Mahbub Hossain, said the rule was to take action against anyone involved in corruption and irregularities. Action would speedily be taken against those involved in corruption in the project. The process was underway.

A decision has been taken for the time being to remove Abdus Sabur Khan as project director, sources have revealed.