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Recommendations for Education Budget: Strategies for Inclusive and Quality Education for All By Kashif Mirza


Jun 7, 2024

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation



The federal government in principle has decided to declare a four-year education emergency in the country to tackle out-of-school-children and other pressing issues in the sector. The education ministries in collaboration with all stakeholders were taking steps to bring improvement. Educational emergency aims to address the pressing issues of out-of-school children, and learning poverty and to provide support to lagging districts across Pakistan. It’s high time to devise strategies, and initiatives to ensure inclusive, quality education for all children. Pakistan Education Statistics in its recent report for 2021-22 pointed out that there were 26.21 million OOSCs in the country. The report stated that 39pc children in Pakistan were out of school: 11.73 million in Punjab, 7.63m in Sindh, 3.63 m in KP, 3.13m in Balochistan and 0.08 million in Islamabad. Pakistan faces a severe education emergency,: Besides the OOSC crisis, the country is also facing a low literacy rate of 62pc. Likewise, the government’s dismal spending of 1.7pc of the Gross Domestic Product (GPD) in the education sector is a matter of concern. Similarly, disparity in the availability of essential facilities such as toilets, potable water and boundary walls in schools in different parts of the country is also a matter of concern. A large number of schools across the country, particularly in the peripheries, are without potable water and other basic facilities. With a commitment to leave no child behind, the Education Emergency underscores Pakistan’s dedication to building a more equitable and prosperous society. There’s an urgent need to devise effective strategies and initiatives to ensure inclusive and quality education for all children in Pakistan. Through targeted interventions and collective action, to pave the way for transformative change in the education sector, fostering a brighter future for the nation. The Article 25-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan safeguard the Right of Education of children age 5-16 years. After devolution under 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Provincial Assemblies also enacted the Article 25-A to ensure free and compulsory education to all children and approved Compulsory Education Acts. Pakistan is also signatory of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which reiterates Pakistan’s pledge to mainstream out-of-school-children (OOSC) by the year 2030. OOSC are mainly divided into two broad categories i.e. never enrolled, and dropped out. This legal provision in the constitution of Pakistan and international commitment shows a strong determination to address the challenge of OOSC. A pilot project at ICT may start which is home to around 52,796 OOSC. Upon success of addressing OOSC ICT model, may be shared with provinces for adopting success factors of the programme.  There are several different reasons that keep children out of education. These barriers and bottlenecks can be grouped into economic; socio-cultural and supply and demand side barriers. To address this crisis, we must adopt an approach that prioritizes inclusive and quality education for all children by increasing Funding: Allocate at least 5% of GDP towards education; Increase the education budget by 20% annually for the next 5 years. Improve Access: Construct 100,000 new schools in rural and marginalized areas by 2025; Implement conditional cash transfers to encourage enrollment and retention e.g., BISP program. Teacher Training: Provide regular training for 100,000 teachers annually; Introduce a national teacher certification program. Curriculum Reform: Revise curriculum to emphasize critical thinking, creativity, and social skills; Incorporate inclusive education practices and diverse perspectives. Technology Integration: Provide digital resources and connectivity to 50% of schools by 2025; Launch a national online learning platform. Community Engagement: Establish at least 100,000 education hubs for community-based learning; Foster partnerships with local NGOs and private sector organisation. Inclusive Education: Launch a national program for children with disabilities; Implement gender-sensitive education practices. Monitoring and Accountability: Strengthen monitoring mechanisms and track progress; Hold stakeholders accountable for results. On the Initiatives side, the National Literacy Program must be launched: Launch a nationwide literacy drive targeting 5 million adults; Provide basic education to 2 million out-of-school children. School Adoption Program: Encourage corporate and community adoption of 50,000 schools; Provide resources and support for infrastructure and educational needs. Teacher Mentorship: Pair 100,000 experienced teachers with new recruits; Enhance teaching quality and retention. Education Hubs: Establish 50,000 community-based education hubs; Offer extracurricular activities, digital resources, and support services. Scholarships and Incentives: Offer 100,000 merit-based scholarships annually; Provide incentives for girls’ education and marginalized groups. Public-Private Partnerships: Collaborate with private sector organizations to develop innovative education solutions; Share resources and enhance infrastructure. Education Emergency Fund: Establish a dedicated fund to respond to education-related crises. A joint concerted effort is required by the formal and non-formal sectors to address the OOSC issue to engage out-of-school children (OOSC) in Pakistan in various educational and skill training initiatives so they can be mainstreamed and become productive individuals of society. We should utilise the existing potential and optimise available educational infrastructure to provide right to education to OOSC by using various formal and non-formal education approaches including evening shift schooling, alternative and accelerated learning programmes, skills training and engaging private and non-profit sector actors in Pakistan. Government must mobilise local communities in formal and non-formal educational approaches for enhanced local ownership and sustainability of project interventions. Integration of digital technology, where possible, in both formal and non-formal delivery models would be helpful to enhance access, promote retention and improve learning outcomes of enrolled children. We should provide adequate professional development opportunities to teachers in formal and non-formal educational settings to improve delivery of contents and learning levels of learners.

With the better implementation of strategies it’s that the expected project outputs at Pakistan for out-of-school children enrolled by using existing formal and non-formal educational infrastructure in Pakistan. By the help of Public Private Partnership (PPP), enrollment of OOSC in selected private schools would be very important. There is need to develop PPP criteria to select partners at per child cost, vouchers, ALP etc. as appropriate. Orientation to private schools, principals, teachers, educationists, service providers, Private Operators, NGOs etc on conducting enrollment campaigns and admitting OOSC would also be more important for the success to execute enrolment campaign in target areas and schools. These OOSC can be enrolled through evening shift schooling, alternative & accelerated learning programmes, construction of additional classrooms, and served through public private partnership strategies. With the help of special efforts, the community members of target localities may have enhanced interest in education of their children and would be ready to facilitate enrolment and learning continuity of OOSC. Resultant, teachers and instructors of existing and new formal and non-formal education schools and centers will get benefit of the programme in form of training and roles in campaigning for OOSC among local communities. Moreover, Teachers and instructors of schools and centers for formal and non-formal education, skills training, likely to engage in this initiative have access to online learning platforms for enhanced professional development prospects. So on the basis on micro household data already available OOSC should be mobilized in local areas for enrolment campaign and admissions to private and public schools, FDE, BECS, NEF, and CSO operated education and training provision platforms. The designing and printing of IEC materials for the promotional, awareness and advocacy materials would be helpful for awareness and advocacy. Moreover, development of enrolment records in education data bases for tracking and follow up must be implemented. Establishment of Evening Shift Schools will also help to enroll for more OOSC by coordinating with public and private  schools where evening shifts classes will be offered. Enrolment campaigns should be conducted for the enrolment of OOSC in selected evening shift schools, and may successful by providing free textbooks and learning materials in selected evening shift schools of public and private sector, and by Initiating teaching and learning in selected evening shift schools, monitoring, supervision and support in selected schools and periodic learning assessment. Government should engage private schools, NGOs, BECS, NEF, NFE Forum, NAVTTC, PEIMA schools, PEF schools etc in public-private partners for its NFE and ALP centers for OOSC through marking of target localities based on available date-hotspots have already been marked; and sign-up understanding with partner Private schools, NGOs, private providers and skills training centers to manage NFE and ALP-P centers, Skills training centers in selected localities in ICT. By signing contracts with selected private partners for enrollment, retention, completion and transition of targeted children. Monitoring, supervision and academic support to targeted schools; Provide support in periodic assessment of learners for recognition of learning of learners and continuity of learning to mainstreaming and transition. Moreover, improvement may raise by conducting enrollment campaigns in target areas for enrollment of OOSC; and Initiating teaching and learning in targeted NFE and ALP centers, with monitoring, supervision and academic support to targeted NFE and ALP centers. Data management of NFE and ALP centers using NFEMIS (non-formal education management information system) for record keeping, analysis and tracking of children would be important. The community members of the targetEd localities should be engaged in interest facilitation in enrolment of OOSC in ICT by providing orientation to parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) in existing schools and centers on enrollment and retention of OOSC. Establishment of new PTAs or local education committees (LECs) in NFE and ALP centers or private schools would be beneficial to engage local people in school affairs. Use of social mobilization strategy to build capacity and training of local people and members of PTAs and LECs, would also be beneficial. There is a need to hold regular periodic meetings in targeted schools and centers and record minutes and decisions on regular basis; develop and implement school and center development plans to enroll and retain OOSC and develop target schools consistently; make sure that PTAs and LECs are positively engaged in identification of OOSC, their enrollment and retention as well as follow up in case children drop-out; provide training manuals for the teachers and instructors; hold training sessions execute classroom based academic monitoring, mentoring and support to improve quality of teaching & learning; and use of classroom observation data and assessment of learners’ data to make decision for inputs for teachers and tailor training manuals and academic support will be supportive and important. The priority must be given to engage Formal Educational Institutions (FEI) for further campaigning in nearby radius of schools for admitting OOSC in school age brackets and developing a student tracking system for timely enrolment of children to ensure not only admissions but their retention also to ensure significant reduction in drop out numbers. Expansion of Non-Formal Education and Skills Training system for enrolment of OOSC in over-age brackets. Under NFE, alternative and accelerated learning programs (ALPs) should be used to offer fast-track learning for overage out of school children. A project coordination cell should be established at MoFEPT, all the provincial education ministries and PIE to coordinate, monitor and report the progress of implementation of the proposed intervention. The National Steering Committee should be constituted of MoFEPT and all the provincial education ministries, and shall comprise members from public, private, formal and non-formal supply side partners. The monitoring should ensure close coordination between the key players, which indicates that this initiative will describe its impact to reduce poverty and empower the vulnerable groups and some target groups such as youth, especially girls.

Allocate at least 5% of GDP towards education; Increase education budget by 20% annually for the next 5 years. Ensure continuity of learning by implementing these strategies and initiatives, Pakistan can address its education emergency, ensuring inclusive and quality education for all children.

Government must be determined and focused on the targets of SDG-4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities. By 2030, to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes;  eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations. Though some challenges like migrating and transitioning families will always remain there and keep moving the needle of OOSC counts. The OOSC challenge is aligned with supporting the Government efforts to ensure out-of-school children aged 5 to 16 years and over-age have access to formal and non-formal education and skills training by 2025. To avoid risk at management the strategies should be adopted to minimize the potential risks to mitigate them amicably. All federal and provincial governments should allocate sufficient budget for school education; the Development programme through PSDP should be allocated funds for construction of additional classrooms and provision of salaries for teachers to accommodate OOSC; the rate of influx in urban and rural areas is more than 15%, planning should be made to establish more schools as per population density; the student unique ID and tracking system should be developed to enroll the age group of students and retain them till completion of programme. An early warning system should be devised to check the drop out of students. Moreover, the refugees are residing in Kachi Abbadies and are lacking IDs and difficult to enroll them, The UNHCR is consultation with District Administration should create a unique ID for their enrolment. Although the overall risks are low but current availability of connectivity and Education Technology may assist further in adopting an ALP path for learners coming from weaker or no learning backgrounds as well as limited time capacity to attend such facilities. Social mobilization is crucial to strengthen and further form and strengthen parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and Local Education Committees (LECs). Existing PTAs operating in FDE run formal schools should be given orientation to gain their support in enrollment and retention. At the same time, new PTAs or LECs should be formed in new NFE, ALP and Skills centers to be managed by NFE providers, NGOs, NCHD, BECS and NEF. The members of these LECs should be trained using social mobilization manual to gain their support in enrolment, retention and learning of OOSC. Recruitment and training of teachers and instructors for NFE, ALP, Skills centers in particular, while existing teachers of FDE and other stakeholders should be given orientation on enrollment and retention of OOSC. Newly recruited teachers should be trained through induction trainings and contents, while the same teachers should receive follow up trainings. Monitoring, mentoring and classroom-based support during the process of teaching & learning should be carried out using structured tools and checklists by the trained field staff, monitors and mentors. Data generated through monitoring and mentoring activities should be analyzed periodically and be used to design and supply inputs to improve administration and quality of teaching & learning. Data management in formal public and private schools and non-formal education centers (ALPs) should be equally focused through updating formal schools. Data of all target learners should be regularly and periodically entered, updated and analyzed and periodic reports should be generated and be used in decision making of the project activities. Whereas, assessment, certification and learning continuity of learners enrolled in targeted schools and centers should be carried out systematically. Assessments formative and summative should be carried out periodically and be used to improve teaching & learning and promote learners in vertical grades, followed by certification, so as the learners could seek admissions in case they are transferred and mainstreamed in other schools. In addition, learners who will complete basic education cycle primary or middle, should be transited to next levels of education. Ensure continuity of learning by implementing these strategies and initiatives, Pakistan can address its education emergency, ensuring inclusive and quality education for all children. This will have a transformative impact on the country’s socio-economic development, fostering a more educated, tolerant, and prosperous society for future generations.

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