Education is believed to be the single most important tool for change; it not only enlightens one’s mind but also lays the foundation of a progressive society
Lahore (Pakistan Point News - 23th Jan, 2020) Education is believed to be the single most important tool for change; it not only enlightens one’s mind but also lays the foundation of a progressive society. Owing to the monumental impact it has on the future of a country, it is mandated in the Constitution of Pakistan under Article 25A to provide free and quality education to children between the ages of five to 16 to increase literacy and forge a better future for the country.
However, the reality is a stark contrast. According to the latest estimates, about 22.8 million children aged 5-16 are out of school which amounts to 44% of the population in this age group.
Although Government of Pakistan has allocated Rs. 83.363 billion for Education Affairs and Services in the federal budget for 2020–21 yet it is insufficient to fill the huge gap which exists. In order to curb this educational crisis, the government will now have to focus more on public private partnerships.
Many social development organizations are doing phenomenal work in this regard. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) has been steering the wave of change for Pakistan’s educational sector for a long time now.
Establishing Community Schools
Since 2005, PPAF has been successfully establishing community schools in rural districts of Pakistan. Around 400 community schools as social enterprise were set up to cater to out-of-school children.
PPAF provided financial and technical support to over 1,700 public schools and over 300,000 children studied in these community and public schools, of which 50% are girls and almost 50,000 students were previously out-of-school children.
Additionally, PPAF enhanced capacities of over 6,000 community members including school management committees and community resource persons. Teacher trainings were given to promote innovative communication approaches and improve overall quality of education in remote districts.
Programme for Poverty Reduction
One of the premier programs of PPAF is the Program for Poverty Reduction (PPR) which is financed by the Italian Government through the Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS). PPR is focused on districts in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is being implemented in the field by 17 Partner Organisations.
Under the education component of the Programme for Poverty Reduction, a total of 813 schools including 619 government and 194 community institutions have been supported.
More than 100,000 children are benefiting from this intervention and are able to access quality education.
PPAF also experimented with delivering teacher training services and direct teaching support remotely in district Harnai (Balochistan) and Chitral (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) with the primary objective of enhancing capacities of instructors in remote areas.
A girls’ high school in Harnai and 4 primary schools in Chitral were transformed into digital classrooms.
The teaching staff was connected with master trainers and experienced tutors in Islamabad. Thus interventions are made in every part of the country to steer a positive change.
Chamalang Education Programme in Balochistan
These educational interventions are targeted towards some of the most remote communities. Another example of this could be the Chamalang Education Programme in Balochistan which was initially launched by Chamalang Tribal Education Committee.
Under Chamalang Education Programme in Kohlu and Loralai, PPAF has provided financial support in the form of scholarships to 3,000 students from 2010 to 2017. Currently, PPAF is providing school fee of more than 900 students.
The academic performance of these children in 2019’s examination validated PPAF’s efforts. 55 students appeared in Matric and all of them passed with over 60% marks. Four students secured above 80% and 22 received over 70% marks.
One of the biggest success stories of the programme is of Malaika Hafeez who secured 964 out of 1100 in Matriculation examination and got the top position amongst private students in Loralai.
Currently, PPAF is supporting 968 students, 292 of them, girls the fee for whom is directly paid to schools. The implementation of such innovative, technology driven and cost effective educational solutions has allowed PPAF to make access to education easier for the poor.
Education for All
It is essential for Pakistan to invest heavily in the education sector and introduce use of technology at the primary and secondary level for students to understand and learn the new skills. It is imperative to do so not only to secure a better tomorrow for the generations to come but to meet the international educational standards as well.