Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah seems to be allocating a lot of his time to the education sector in the province. A meeting here, a conference there, Shah is putting utmost efforts in turning around the crumbling infrastructure of public education in Sindh. More power to him.Now, the latest in Shah’s endeavours is a massive grant of Rs 6 billion he approved for provision of requisite facilities in around 4,000 schools across the province.

We believe the grant, if put to proper use, could turn the fortunes of the education system in the province and go a long way in improving enrolment and retention rates in public schools. According to Education for All 2015 National Review Report: Pakistan, pre-primary gross enrolment in Sindh in 2012-2013 was recorded at 48.9%, the lowest among four main provinces. Sindh also performed lower than national average when it came to gross primary enrolment, managing 76.4% against a national average of 85.9%. The report highlighted that besides other factors like distance, lack of facilities such as drinking water, toilets and boundary walls vastly contributed to children dropping out of schools at early stages of education.

Murad Ali Shah’s latest budgetary allocation aims to address these problems. The approval was granted in a high-level meeting chaired by the CM and attended by Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, Sindh Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Education Secretary Iqbal Durrani, Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi and others.

Durrani informed the participants that almost 4,000 public schools in Sindh did not have the facility of washrooms. Shah said he had been receiving reports of the missing facilities and wanted these schools to not only get the facility of toilets, but also compound walls, libraries, teachers’ rooms, labs, drinking water and electricity. The CM added that schools in areas where electricity was not available must be solarised.

Officials in the meeting were of the view that the project would cost Rs 6 billion. The CM gave approval of the funds, directing officials, “I want this to be done within six months. This is a target you have to achieve.”

The chief minister asked the education secretary to develop school-wise data that included number of students, teachers, budget, facilities and area etc. “I want to develop a system under which school specific data should be made available so that their problems and issues could be identified forthwith for redressal,” he said.

Shah said meetings to gauge progress on upgrading of 4,000 schools would be held every fortnight.

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