The findings revealed a deteriorating condition of schools with several recommendations to improve the situation. According to Article 25A of Pakistan’s constitution, every child aged five to sixteen is entitled to state-mandated education. However, the data provided by SEMIS indicates a dire situation in Keamari District.
Out of the 216 schools in the district, 15 are closed, and 11 are classified as shelter less. The total enrollment of 39,057 students accounts for only 10% of the total population of children in the district. Moreover, 153 out of the functioning schools are primary schools, highlighting a lack of planning by the government. This lack of infrastructure for higher education exacerbates the problem by not providing institutes for children to graduate into.
The facilities provided on campus are also in poor condition. Only 50% of schools have access to drinking water, 173 have toilets, 156 have electricity, and merely 81 schools have handwashing facilities. This lack of basic amenities fosters a deep mistrust for government education within the community, leading to a high dropout rate. Mismanagement and insufficient teaching staff further contribute to the dismal state of education.
The challenges faced by girls attending government schools are particularly acute. The lack of proper washrooms and sanitation facilities for young girls is a significant problem. Additionally, the absence of specific facilities for disabled children, such as ramps, makes schools inaccessible to an entire demographic. Social ostracization and bullying also contribute to the isolation of disabled and trans children. Teachers and students are not sensitized to the issues faced by minorities and vulnerable groups, creating a harrowing experience for these children.
The lack of accessibility and transparency in the development budget is concerning. Only individuals well-versed in the system can access the budget, after navigating through numerous obstacles. The budget is not readily available in a complete form. People should have the right to easily access and understand the budget. Failing to provide this information feels like an attempt to evade criticism and valid concerns. A public budget can be subjected to scrutiny and lead to improvements.
Furthermore, school management committees (SMCs) are virtually non-existent. These committees, consisting of principals, teachers, community members, and parents, are crucial for maintaining infrastructure quality and services. However, most schools lack functioning SMCs, and the funds allocated to them are often misused and unaccounted for. This signifies a reckless attitude towards the educational sector.
The PCE on basis of its findings made recommendations including increase the national budget for education from less than 2% of GDP to 4% and double the development budget for Keamari District.
Open more secondary schools in the district and convert some primary schools into secondary schools. Provide proper infrastructure and facilities, including secure buildings with boundary walls, utilities like electricity and running water, clean and separate washrooms, adequate furniture and classroom materials, ramps for wheelchair accessibility, functional libraries and science laboratories, complete staffing with cleaners and guards.
The PCE recommends hiring of an appropriate number of teachers and organize regular training for them. Employ more female teachers for primary schools. Provide sensitivity training to teachers to effectively handle students from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds. Incorporate space for co-curricular activities within the curriculum. Make the development budget of the district accessible, easy-to-understand, and structured for easy access by the general public.
The last recommendations are strengthening SMCs and ensure accountability for allocated funds, and involve parents in the process. There is a need to establish a chain of checks and balances to ensure the smooth running of schools. Collaborate with Lady Health Workers and local government representatives to account for children who are not enrolled in school.