Terming its work for reforms in Punjab’s public sector schools successful, the Department for International Development (DFID) United Kingdom on Monday said it would continue supporting education reforms in Punjab until 2020.
DFID is supporting the Punjab Education Sector Programme (PESP-II) through its executing agency Adam Smith International (ASI). In this regard, representatives of ASI, DFID, government officials and a large number of donors, members of the civil society and academia got together for a transition event on that marked the completion of ASI’s contract with DFID for implementing the PESP-II.
Speaking during the event, ASI Pakistan Head Adam Hall was all praises for efforts made by the Punjab government and DFID team and appreciated the fact that PESP-II was DFID’s largest education sector investment in the world. He attributed the project’s successful implementation to fruitful collaboration between ASI and McKinsey and Co.
Speaking on behalf of DFID, Edward Davis said the department would continue to support education sector reforms in the province until 2020, adding that the primary focus of the education reforms had been access to education for primary schoolchildren. He said substantial improvements had been in this regard as 1.6 million children had joined the public school system since 2012, but there was stil a large room for improvement.
Offering details of the programme, Naveed Saleh Siddique, team leader for Technical Assistance Management Organisation (TAMO) that assisted the international agencies in PESP-II, said the reforms had been indeed successful. He said the education sector budget had been increased 100 percent compared to 2010 and 99 percent decrease in multi-grading had been achieved. “Moreover, Rs 37 billion have been provided to schools as school-specific and non-salary budget to enable them to meet their operational costs,” he added.
Siddique said major infrastructure shortcomings in schools had been managed and now 96.5 percent of schools in Punjab had electricity, drinking water, toilets, and boundary walls. He said the School Education Department had been successful in increasing the participation rate of five- to nine-year-old children from 84.8% in 2011 to 90.4% in March 2017. The TAMO team lead added that the estimated participation rate was between 91% and 93%. “Student performance in basic literacy and numeracy now stands at 77%, exceeding the government’s target of 75%.”
Following the initial session, a number of panel discussions were held by leading figures of the eductaion sector on topics ranging from financial management, governance and inclusive education to teacher development. Key participants of these discussions included Dr Amjad Saqib, Abbas Rashid, Dr Irfan Muzaffar and Dr Faisal Bari among other senior government officials, donors and scholars.