Pakistan is ranked second in terms of children not enrolled in schools, with an estimated 23 million children out of 51 million currently out of school. In addition, it stands at an abysmally low global rank of 168 out of 188 countries in low primary and secondary school enrollment.
The problem with the present schooling system is that the system is centralized and bureaucratic, burdened with extremely low quality teachers, use of the teachers for political purpose, nepotism, and no monitoring or accountability. Out of 150,000 government schools in the country, 45% lack basic facilities such as electricity, boundary wall, clean drinking water, toilet, and safe buildings. This was revealed at a press briefing jointly held by Thar Foundation, and The Education Committee of C100 Think Tank, on the occasion of launching a ‘Strategy to Transform Basic Education System in Pakistan’.
The strategy paper distributed to the media recommends, firstly, a charter of education to build consensus and support among all political parties to promote education. Secondly, to increase spending on education from 2% to 5% of GDP in five years. Thirdly, Federal Ministries and Provincial Departments be converted into autonomous statutory Federal and Provincial Basic Education Organizations (BEOs). These BEOs should be governed and managed by a board of directors comprising educationists, professionals, and bureaucrats, with the majority belonging to the private sector.
The BEOs will report administratively to the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers. These BEOs will develop education vision, five year targets, strategies, action plans, monitoring and accountability. High emphasis is placed on recruitment and retention of best quality teachers and administrators through training and monitoring. The salaries, promotions and rewards of the teachers should be linked directly to the performance of their schools.
The final recommendation of the paper is to make comprehensive plans with timelines to conform to the constitutional requirements and public reporting on the outcomes on a quarterly basis. The secret of the success behind the delivery of good quality education to all our students lies in the establishment of effective School Management Committees (SMCs), comprising parents, community members with good reputations and the head teacher. The parents will be in the majority on the SMCs.
Additionally noteworthy is the MOU signed between the Education Committee and the Thar Foundation for Mutual Corporation to achieve SDG Goals in Islamkot district by 2030. Former captain of the Pakistan cricket team, Shahid Afridi, graced the event as chief guest and pledged his support to the cause as a brand ambassador for the program.