Langlands School & College Chitral: How actress-turned British principal, BoG played havoc with Rs120m grant sum?
By Zulfiqar Ahmad
Islamabad (TP) November 15, 2019: Crippled with financial woes, Pakistan is struggling to finance its education system, a primary driver to create sense of responsibility among people and realize their duties to achieve the combined national goal.
In Pakistan, the obsolete state education system has forced parents to send their children to forward-looking private and charity-run private educational institutions, which fill the much-needed void engaging teachers and students even-evenhandedly.
Private educations’ funds come from all sorts of sources including donations, grants and government funding. Donation and charity-run private educational institutions are bound to utilize each and every penny provided by the government from the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, without squandering it on other purpose than the intended cause. Teaching donations and grants are meant for professional development, classroom enrichment, school infrastructure and supplies and almost everything that aims at bettering the quality of education.
However, the principal and the board of governors (BoG) of The Langlands School and College Chitral have done the opposite and squandered the government provided millions of rupees grant in brazen violation of rules without seeking prior approval from the competent authority for its reallocation.
In a brazen violation of rules, the BoG in connivance with a foreign national principal of ‘The Langlands School and College Chitral have illegally utilized Rs100 million (Rs10 crore) grant-in-aid — given to it by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government in 2014 for the construction of a multi-purpose hall and a hostel — under the head of salaries of the staff and other expenditures.
According to documents available with this correspondent, in December 2014, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government approved a sum of Rs100 million and Rs20 million (Rs2 crore) grant-in-aid for The Langlands School and College Chitral, however, School Principal Carey Schofield and the BoG instead of utilizing the approved money for the construction of the multi-purpose hall and the hostel, have used it for paying salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff and other extravagant purpose.
A screen shot of Carey Schofield from Russian action movie Black Shark 1
According to sources and available documents, Schofield, an author-turned-actress-turned-principal did not utilize the huge amount of Rs100 million specifically released for construction of the hostel and the multi-purpose hall, but spent the amount on the construction of her private property, using imported materials, decorating it with imported furniture and salaries of her personal employees including a police guard whom she paid Rs12,000 salary per month, declaring him a private guard in the school record, until his services were taken back by the government.
Schofield, a British woman and the principal of The Langlands School and College, prior to joining the school back in 2013, authored some books including ‘Inside the Pakistan Army’ and worked as a film actress for a Russian action movie – Black Shark 1. Interestingly, prior to joining the Langlands school, she did not have any previous teaching experience or as an academic.
For years, she was presented as a “poster girl” of late Major GD Langlands by school’s BoG especially Sirajul Mulk – a local member of the BoG – projecting her to government authorities, parents, teachers and the students as the ‘best’ choice to “safeguard” the aid and donors’ money which is being poured to the school in millions every year for promoting education in the backward district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The splashy rented house of Carey Schofield at Dolomuts Chitral
In 2015, on a complaint, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan blocked her visa for about eight months after she illegally terminated the services of some teachers. However, the BoG members lauded her ‘dedication’ and service.
While Siraj Ul Mulk, one of her closest friends and an astute businessman, claimed that under Carey, the school will ‘flourish like a palm tree as she [Carey] is known in seven continents, and will bring huge donations than GD Langlands’ – a complete farce claim as she failed to arrange a single penny during her seven years stint. Instead, the she failed to ensure judicious utilization of grants given to the school by federal and provincial governments in the past.
During all these years in Chitral, Carey Schofield managed to get Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – for reasons best known to her — as her services as principal do not need any explanation after a recent protest against her by the students and the teachers against the misuse of school funds, nepotism and violation of merit leading to the closure of the institution for almost a week. Later, the school was opened on the order of a local court.
In wake of the recent protest, a 15-member Parents’ Council headed by Afsar Ali comprising renowned personalities of the area including Abdul Wali Khan (advocate), Dr Noorul Islam, Manger Inam Ullah, Prof Sahibuddin, Riaz Duwambagi is currently overseeing the recent controversy that has beset the school. The council is also pursuing a contempt case against the woman principal in a local court.
According to documents, while both federal and provincial governments had been pouring millions of rupees to her and the school, yet Carey has been ‘misusing’ tens of millions of rupees of the public money under the pretext of salaries and for other extravagant purpose.
When contacted, Carey Schofield promised to get back with her version after consulting the BoG members over the utilization of the grant for other purpose, she did not respond for over 10 days, however.
A member of school BoG who declined not to be named said that the foreign national principal has spent all the money under the pretext of ‘giving salaries’ to the teachers.
He said that the amount including the profit on the total Rs120 million amount was ruthlessly spent by the principal without getting it reallocated from the competent authority.
He said that the school has now applied for the reallocation of the already utilized Rs100 million, which had been for the school with great efforts with the help of former chief secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Amjad Ali Khan, for the construction purpose.
“The only solution is to get rid of her [Carey. We have no option but to replace her with a new principal [as] she is such a rigid woman and doesn’t listen to the BoG at times. The day she’s shown up at the school, controversies crop up which ultimately affect the overall environment of the school,” he maintained.
He said that after Schofield took over, the school faces a loss of Rs35 million (Rs3 crore 50 lac) every year – a striking contrast from late Major Langlands’ era during which the school had the net loss of Rs0.60 million (or 6 lac) per year.
According to old documents, the monthly expenditure of the principal office of the school is well over 0.4 million (Rs4 and half lac) which include her own salary , salaries of her official and personal staff including a police guard named Attuallah, who had been drawing a monthly salary of Rs12,000. The sources said that few years back, her total expenditure used to be around Rs4 and a-half lac.
According the sources, now her current expenditure is around Rs0.7 million (7 lac). However, it could not be verified through independent sources.
A senior official at Auditor General for Pakistan in Islamabad said that the grant-in-aid released for an autonomous body, an NGO or a private school cannot be used for other purpose without seeking prior approval from the competent authority.
“Diverting the grant-in-aid for some other purpose is nothing but embezzlement and corruption,” he said.
Talking to this correspondent, MNA from Chitral Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali said that the allegations of Rs120 million against the foreign national woman is just a tip of the iceberg.
A glimpse into the past expenditures of the principal and her personal staff
He said that she had not only destroyed the school but also misused the hard-earned money of the taxpayers under the pretext of raising the teachers’ salaries. But on ground, there is no truth in her claim.
The MNA said that he is going to file a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court making the woman principal, the BoG members and others as respondents in the instant case.
He said that there will be an audit of every single penny in front of the local people and those involved in the embezzlement and misappropriation of Rs100 million will be brought to book.
Note: The story and all the documents are the sole property of the author – The Punch editorial board