education reforms
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Muhammad Ali |

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: the first thing that enters our minds is their mammoth rallies or extended sit-ins. While the people and analysts question the motive and legitimacies of the former, very few, however, inquire about the state of affairs of the province they are governing. Have they performed in K-P? Do they deserve the right to take a jab at everyone? Or are they a beacon of hope that has faded?

Last year, Punjab cut its education budget for the 9th consecutive year. As of April 2016, Punjab had only spent Rs14bn of their Rs32.8bn for the development of school education.

A few days ago I came across a survey which was conducted by K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Department which stated that almost 35000 students who previously attended Private schools had left their institutes and joined Government schools over a span of 6 months in 2016. If not astonishing, this was a huge achievement accomplished by the current KPK Government bearing in mind how this province was in shambles by the end of 2013 due to vast militancy in the region.

Let’s ruminate if this was mere luck on top of an increase in private school fee structure or did the PTI government hold true to their undertakings.

The budget for Education of the year 2017-2018 has been concluded and it stands at Rs139 Billion which is an increase of 128% from the education budget of the year 2012. Not only has the KPK government left all other provinces behind but has set new standards of education in Pakistan. Last year, Punjab cut its education budget for the 9th consecutive year. As of April 2016, Punjab had only spent Rs14bn of their Rs32.8bn for the development of school education, it goes without saying that this is the reason why education indicators show little progress in Punjab. For a densely populated province that is Punjab, the local government should be spending more on education rather than anything else.

Read more: Imran Khan – KPK & Sindh to get a “surprise”

Hope for the children of KP

To commemorate Children’s day in 2015, K-P government inaugurated Zamung Kor, a home for street children. The aid of Rs157 million was released for the project. The purpose of it being to bring street Children into the fold by providing for them equal opportunities in Academics as compared to the more fortunate and rehabilitating them into the society as model citizens of tomorrow. Being in its first phase the institution can accommodate only 1000 children up to 12 years of age.

KP government had been supporting out of school children under its ‘Iqra Faroghe taleem voucher scheme’ since April 2015 and under it, 16000 Children were getting an education in six districts of K-P while with new terms signed with Elementary Education foundation 40000 more children are to be enrolled in 8 more districts of K-P.

If not the first time then this in my lifetime is the first time a step taken by any government at all for the betterment of the downtrodden. While rests of the provincial governments either invest in mega projects or concentrate on keeping their voters happy till the next elections, PTI took a U-turn from the political way of Pakistan and invested in the next generation. While there are cases of Street Children rounding up as Child labors, bonded labors or being sold in the diamond markets, in K-P, despite all its flaws, there is a chance for a street child to one day end up as an equal to the more fortunate of the society. That’s a change that can take us forward.

According to UNICEF report, there are 6.5 million children currently not in primary school and 2.7 million not in lower secondary school. It also states that around 64.5% of children of 3-4 years of age in rural areas are not attending pre- primary schools.

Read more: Why Punjab’s Education in a total mess? Can it be fixed?

Alif Ailaan’s report says for the age of 5-16 there are 25.02 million boys and girls who are out of school. The Central province of Pakistan, Punjab houses more than half of Pakistan’s out of school children.

40000 teachers were selected on merit through NTS system rather than the quota system or political appointments. To promote higher attendance and better performances stipends worth of Rs150 million were distributed among teachers.

K-P Government finalized the bill for free and compulsory education in K-P for children age 5 to 16 years. The government had been supporting out of school children under its ‘Iqra Faroghe taleem voucher scheme’ since April 2015 and under it, 16000 Children were getting an education in six districts of K-P while with new terms signed with Elementary Education foundation 40000 more children are to be enrolled in 8 more districts of K-P. Under this Scheme, they have been paying Rs 500 to students of Private Primary Schools and Rs800 to students of higher secondary classes as tuition fee. A further of Rs3500 annually is distributed amongst them for books and uniforms.

In the past 3 years, K-P has seen scholarships worth of Rs260 million given to 585 children under the talent hunt program.

An MOU has been signed between K-P government and British Council late last year for the training of 83000 teachers. The cost for this program is Rs568.4million. Rs170 million will be provided by British Council for this scheme and it will take 3 years for completion.

Recently, 40000 teachers were selected on merit through NTS system rather than the quota system or political appointments. A huge sum of Rs190 million was deducted from absent teachers and action was taken against 605 teachers while 62 were fired. To promote higher attendance and better performances stipends worth of Rs150 million were distributed among teachers.

Read more: KP government introduces a Muslim Board to overview legislation, Education

A turn in the right direction

It can be said that the K-P government blasted on to the scene of education when the need was the highest. For a province where there are many social constraints the local government found a way past them and thrived.

The province of KPK has a very long way to go, the seeds sowed by the PTI government will take a long time to grow as all human development projects do. However, this is the first step in the right direction and must be applauded.

A dawn-Herald study conducted in 2014 showed that Education sector of KPK showed 70%  more improvement than last year which was far more than any other province in Pakistan.

World Bank in November of last year commended K-P government for being on top among all four federating units of Pakistan for making progress in different areas of human development.

The province of KPK has a very long way to go, the seeds sowed by the PTI government will take a long time to grow as all human development projects do. However, this is the first step in the right direction and must be applauded.

The Punjab government might confuse owning a laptop with education or might consider building a metro bus as a sign of prosperity rather than an educated youth, the local K-P government managed to draw a fine line between the wants and the needs.

As an answer to the question I asked at the start: They did not only perform in K-P, they accomplished to provide an equal playing ground for everyone and set a very high standard of education for all of Pakistan to follow.

Muhammad Ali is a graduate of Aitchison College, Lahore. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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