• Took 7 months to appoint a director for the 28-month project
• Covid-19 hampered the implementation of Tk1,493 crore project
• It would take 68 years to complete if money is allocated in the current rate
• Project tenure ends in June 2021
• 0.09% of total expenditure spent till December 2020
• Authority concerned proposed one year extension
• Project officials said at least 2 years needed to complete work
The project, taken two and a half years ago with an estimated cost of around Tk1,500 crore to build skilled human capital through increasing enrollment in technical education, has made almost zero progress due much to the disruption caused by pandemic and other complexities.
Despite an allocation of TK160 crore for the project in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the current fiscal year, the allocation dropped to Tk46 crore in the Revised ADP (RADP) due to lower implementation.
About Tk55 crore has been allocated in the entire tenure of the project, which is about 3.68 percent of the total estimated cost. The tenure of the project is going to end next June with overall progress below 1%.
The total expenditure under the project till December last year was Tk1.35 crore, which is only 0.09% of the estimated total expenditure. Tk1.22 crore has been spent to buy cars, furniture, equipment, and machinery for the office of the project implementation unit.
The Technical and Madrasah Education Division has recently sent a letter to the Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission and Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of the planning ministry, seeking opinion on extending the tenure of the project by one more year without increasing the cost.
However, additional one year will not be sufficient to complete the construction work of the proposed infrastructure, according to the project officials and the project director.
As per the letter, signed by Md Abdur Rakib, joint secretary of the Technical and Madrasah Education Division, the project "Capacity Building for Existing 64 Technical Schools and Colleges" under the Directorate of Technical Education was supposed to be implemented in February 2019 to June 2021 tenure.
Abdur Rakib said it was not possible to achieve the desired target in the allotted time due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Local training for 3,900 teachers and foreign training for 1,624 teachers and officers was also delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Officials said the tenure of the project started in February 2019, but the project director was appointed in August that year. Starting the implementation of the project was delayed seven months because of this.
They also said the project was included in the lower priority list due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the allocation for the project was postponed for six months starting from March 2020.
Allocation for the project was restored in October last year after cutting 25% of the budget.
The letter sent to the planning ministry also revealed that 13 seven-storey buildings under the project required customised design, that is why the commencement of physical works required more time.
They also said a sum of Tk79.41 crore was allocated to ensure local training of 3,900 teachers and foreign training of 1,624 teachers and officers, which was postponed due to Covid-19. Tk1.22 crore has been spent to buy cars, furniture, equipment, and machineries for the office of the project implementation unit.
Project director seeks more time:
Subrata Paul, joint secretary of the government and for the project director, told The Business Standard that he took the responsibility of the project before the Covid-19 pandemic started.
He said there was no preliminary work to start building the infrastructure the project has been done under. Even there was no facility for the officials to sit at the project office.
"I have bought two cars, and some furniture for the project office. Work for 24 buildings has started while contracts for six other buildings have been awarded," he said.
A number of tenders have also been called to construct infrastructure in 30 locations and some more tenders for the remaining areas are under preparation.
Subrata Paul also said about 80% of the allocation for the project is to construct buildings and other infrastructure. The Education Engineering Department (EED) is responsible for constructing the buildings. That is why the project officials would not be able to complete the building without the sincere of the EED.
He also said, at least two more years are required to complete the project, but the higher authority proposed one year.
Analysing the minutes of the Project Implementation Committee (PIC) meeting held in December last year, it was found that the representative of the IMED also opined for extending the project's tenure two years subject to the acceleration of the rate of its implementation.
Why the project
The government emphasises increasing the enrollment in the technical education programmes. The rate of technical students among total students in the country increased from 1% in 2009 to 17% in 2020. The government had a target to increase the enrolment to 20% in 2020 and 30% in 2023 and approved the project to achieve it.
The project aims to create skilled human capital through constructing 64 buildings, laboratories, workshop and purchasing equipment.
The project would help modernise 64 technical schools and colleges to enroll about 7,000 students every year in the four-year Diploma in Engineering course.
Under the project, 13 seven-storey and 51 five-storey buildings will be constructed and teachers would be recruited and trained at home and abroad.