Karzai’s Education Ministers Fleeced the U.S. of Roughly $769 M
Policy + Politics

Karzai’s Education Ministers Fleeced the U.S. of Roughly $769 M

REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool

It must have come as a great relief to U.S. military and State Department officials when former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai told The New York Times that he was done with politics and won’t attempt to win back his old job.

Corruption and theft was rampant throughout almost a decade of Karzai rule during the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and it was compounded by the Defense Department’s incompetence in auditing the expenditure of billions of dollars. A report in April from the office of John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said DOD could only account for $21 billion of the total $66 billion it spent to date rebuilding the war-torn country.

Related: $45 Billion in Tax Dollars Goes Missing in Afghanistan   

In the latest spending travesty, SIGAR on Thursday released an inquiry into the U.S. Agency for International Development’s misbegotten support for Afghanistan’s education sector, totaling about $769 million.

According to the report, the new Afghan Minister of Education and the Minister of Higher Education recently told the Afghan legislature that “former ministry officials who served under President Hamid Karzai provided false data to the government and to international donors regarding the number of active schools in Afghanistan.”

It seems as if there are no active schools in insecure parts of the war-torn country and that “former officials doctored statistics, embezzled money, and interfered with university entrance exams,” according to SIGAR. “These allegations suggest that the U.S. and other donors may have paid for schools that students do not attend and for the salaries of teachers who do not teach.”

Related: Is State Dept. Trying to Muzzle Afghanistan Watchdog?   

USAID has frequently touted its education programs as being among its most successful in Afghanistan. For instance, USAID has cited a sharp increase in student enrollment in schools, from an estimated 900,000 in 2002 to more than eight million in 2013 as an indication of progress. It now appears that these figures were falsified by the Afghan Ministry of Education.

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