‘All we need to sustain education – Rs 9bn annually’

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A n expected expenditure of Rs 9 billion is required each year to maintain the educational reforms being carried out by the government in the province and talks are underway with international donors to acquire funds, said Sindh Senior Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq. He said this at a meeting held at the Chief Minister’s House to review the Sindh Education Reform Programme (SERP). The meeting was presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah. Haq said that under the reforms, gender equity at primary and secondary level will be improved, result-based accountability strengthened through strong monitoring and devaluation framework, while the management sector strengthened through medium-term policy planning, financial management and donor coordination. “The recently launched ‘school consolidation policy’ aims to merge nearby schools into campus schools,” he said. “According to the policy roadmap, one million children will be enrolled in primary level schools and the enrolment of 900,000 students at secondary schools doubled to 1.8 million. Student’s achievement is expected to increase from 15 to 25 percent.”
“The expected annual expenditure of Rs 9 billion is anticipated for sustaining the educational reforms agenda [in the province], for which dialogues are going on with international donors including World Bank, European Union, UNICEF, Flemish International Cooperation Agency (FICA), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA),” Haq said.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said efforts will be made to negotiate with donor agencies for provision of funds on soft terms. “Under the Pakistan People’s Party manifesto, the ‘5-E Plan’ was launched and prompt measures taken to implement the educational projects for increasing the literacy ratio in the province particularly in rural areas where it is very low,” he added.
Appreciating the efforts of Sindh Education Department, he said the Sindh government will make efforts for provision and allocation of funds to spread education in the province. He hoped that vigilance and implementation of policies will be enhanced. “Education is very essential for development, progress and prosperity of any nation and the government endeavours to spread education in every nook and corner of the province,” he added.
Stressing upon the education department officers, teachers, parents, students, non-governmental organisations and intellectuals to come forward, Shah asked them to play their due role for increasing the literacy ratio in the real sense by adopting latest teaching techniques and learning methods to bring prompt changes. In a presentation on the occasion, Sindh Education Secretary Siddique Memon briefed about the lending terms of international development agencies and continuity and sustainability of reforms. “Under the World Bank’s IDA credit, out of the targeted amount of $350 million, disbursements of $325 million have been released while $25 million is in the pipeline,” he added. “Under the European Union grant, 25.50 million euros out of the targeted amount of Euro 33 million have been disbursed while Euro 7.50 million is in the balance,” the education secretary said.
Talking about the achievements under SERP, he said that 13,800 teachers were recruited on need-cum-merit basis after being examined by the IBA and University of Sindh, while another 14,000 teachers will be recruited soon. Memon further informed the meeting participants that an amount of Rs 100 million will be provided to each district. “With the 4th phase [of SERP] in place, around 650 shelter-less schools are being facilitated with classrooms and facilities,” he said. “School Management Committees are being provided Rs 1.1 billion per annum to strengthen community voice.” The education secretary said that 450 low-cost private schools have been provided subsidies based on Public-Private Partnership model at Rs 450 per female and Rs 350 per male pupil.
He said that 4.7 million sets of textbooks were distributed free of charge among students from grade-I to grade XII. “After the review of curriculum, new textbooks are being printed while the pilot project of ‘Book Banks’ initiated in the province,” he added. “The female students of normal schools are being provided annual stipends of Rs 2,400 while girl students of differential with a stipend of Rs 3,600. A total of 331,000 students benefited in the year 2008, while 410,000 students benefited in 2010.” Memon added that Sindh Exam Commission is being initiated for Students’ Achievement Testing for Grade V and VI and Students Diagnostic Assessment conducted for mathematics and languages for Grade-IV, and Social Sciences and Maths for Grade-VIII students.
“For regulation of teachers’ education, Sindh Teachers Education Development Authority (STEDA) has been formed to impart new ADE/BEd courses,” Memon said. “Cluster-based school management and monitoring has been extended from three to 14 tehsils.” The meeting at the Chief Minister’s House was also attended by Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah and Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, Information Minister Shazia Marri and Secretary to Chief Minister Alamuddin Bullo among officers of the Planning and Development and Education departments.