A U.S. government monitoring agency says that its review of the conditions and status of USAID-funded schools in northern Afghanistan has detected "extreme discrepancies between reported and observed students and teachers."
The review by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) focused on the relatively peaceful and prosperous Balkh province. The agency released its findings on Friday.
"On average, officials reported an enrollment of 2,461 students at each of the 26 schools that SIGAR inspected in Balkh province," it said. "However, an average of only 734, or 30 percent, of students enrolled were observed at the time of inspection."
SIGAR is tasked to review billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that are being spent or allocated to help rebuild the war-shattered country. It said USAID has disbursed about $868 million for education programs in Afghanistan as of September 2016.
The agency observed that fewer than 20 percent of students reportedly enrolled at eight schools, and fewer than 10 percent of students enrolled at five schools.
It said that inspectors did not observe any of the 963 students who reportedly enrolled at one school in Kishidih district.
"At a school in Khulm district, 30 of 460 enrolled students were reported absent during our site visit. At the time of our visit, there were only 10 students on school grounds," according to the SIGAR report.
The report added that on average, school staff reported that 77 teachers were assigned to each school.
"Our site visits found an average of 25 teachers on school grounds, or approximately 35 percent of the number of teachers reportedly assigned to a school," SIGAR noted.
The agency observed that less than half of the schools had reliable electricity, and 10 facilities lacked access to clean water.