The Punjab Planning and Development Board (P&DB) and the Government College University (GCU) Lahore are going to set up the Social Policy Advisory Board (SPAB) and the Social Policy Advisory Council through Education (SPACE) for research, evidence generation and dissemination, reviews and assessment of public sector programs on social sector development, public financial management and improved governance.
In this regard, GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi and P&D Board Chairman Hamid Yaqub Sheikh held a detailed meeting at the latter’s office, and deliberated upon the structure and scope of SPAB and SPACE. Member P&D Board for Education, Khalid Sultan was also present.
VC Prof Zaidi proposed that SPAB would be a policy-body to be facilitated by a knowledge-hub SPACE. “The Council would promote regular provision of evidence and knowledge to decision-makers about development of policies, strategies, and programs aligned with upstream and downstream public policies,” Prof Zaidi said.
In Pakistan, the VC said, social sector had been devolved to provinces. “Hence, this alliance of provincial government, academia and international development partners would be a milestone for growth and social development agenda of the province of the Punjab,” he concluded.
According to the concept paper, the patron-in-chief of SPACE would be Punjab Governor Chaudhry Ghulam Sarwar. “Key stakeholders will include the all public policy making bodies in Punjab; the higher education institutes, the International Social Development Institutions (such as the UNICEF); and the NGOs/ Charity Sector.
P&DB Chairman Hamid Yaqub Sheikh said that this initiative would be launched during 2020, with the team of SPAB / SPACE based jointly at the P&D and the GCU Lahore.
The chairman emphasized the importance of policy continuity based on rigorous research. “The bridge between a research body such as SPACE and the policy body SPAB would facilitate policy consistency in various types of social policies, and we are happy to work with a prestigious higher education institution, such as the GCU”, he added.
The first task of this collaboration will include agreeing to the societal outcomes which SPAB/ SPACE will focus on. Discussions included focusing on generating education and employment for the underprivileged children and youth; on software development and promoting good governance practices of evidence-based policy making.