According to the 2013 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 6o percent of children in fifth grade in KP don’t have even second grade competency in mathematics and language. The challenge for education reform is to improve this dismal outcome. It would be a big step towards making KP children productive citizens in their own province, in the rest of the country and overseas.
The KP government has taken several initiatives to improve schooling. The key challenges to education in K-P, like in the other provinces and regions of the country, are access, quality, equity and governance. To improve these areas of the education sector, the government of K-P took substantive measures through policy and sector reforms. However, without accurate evaluation of policies, it is hard to tell whether they have any impact on the ground. Therefore, the provincial government has established an independent monitoring unit (IMU) to gather evidence on school performance systematically (using smart phones to prevent manipulation). Data is now available for over 28,000 KP schools to assess policy initiatives and design cost-effective interventions.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Department of K-P, is evidently determined to increase access to quality education. The rolling out of enrolment campaigns, assessment of teachers’ capacities, rationalization of the teaching staff, provision of the missing facilities in government schools and initiation of students’ assessment mechanisms, are a few of the critical steps taken to provide a better education environment for the community at large. It is important to note that K-P has fared well on the indicators, despite the volatile security situation, which is not as challenging in other provinces and once that is also improved, K-P will shine further in its educational achievements.
In Mansehra district of KP 42 schools are non-functional and the premises are being used for other purposes. Ghost and non-functional schools are spread across the country in every province. The provincial ministry of education must order an immediate probe into the matter. The quality of education provided in rest of the schools in the region is dismal, which further explains why the province is one of the highly illiterate regions in the country.
And of schools that are functional, girls make up for the highest drop-out rates. Also part of the problem is teachers’ absence who continues to receive their salaries without taking any classes. Whereas the K-P government has allocated more for education than Punjab and Sindh in its provincial budget, efficient utilization of the funds is equally important to improve the literacy rate in the province.
Despite challenges, the Haripur district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa topped the rankings with the best education score from all the districts of the country.
However, the Malakand district secured the highest scores for middle schools with infrastructure and facilities, with the province leading the rankings.
“The basic problem in education was political interference and governance and once the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government addressed that seriously, the result is visible in the report,” he said.
Moreover, the introduction of the biometric system had helped eradicate absenteeism of teachers. Hundreds of teachers who were found truant from their duties were punished, while hard-working, committed and performing teachers were regularly rewarded.
On the other hand, the minister said that the recruitment of teachers has been made apolitical by employing a selection process involving the National Testing Service (NTS).
In order to introduce a uniform system of education, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary & Secondary Education Department (ESED) is revising textbooks. So far textbooks up to class five have been revised. New books are easier to understand and are structured in manner, which will help students in concepts instead of root learning.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary & Secondary Education Department conducted uniform and universal examination for class five in all public and private schools. The purpose of these examinations was to improve quality of education in KP since these assessments provided information about shortcomings which is helping planners to address service delivery in effective manners. During last three years, The Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (ESED) has successfully established and completed about 450 new schools in KP. All of these schools are fully resourced and functioning according to the data available at ESED. About 229 schools have been sanctioned while 221 are in process.
The ESED’s budget continued upward shift and kept increasing since 2013. In 2013- 14 the total budget was 64 Billion, which then increased to 88 Billion in 2014-15, 99.4 Billion in 2015-16, 118.7 Billion in 2016-17 and 136.194 Billion this year (2017- 18). The ESED’s Budget has increased by 14.51% as compared to FY2016-17 while overall increase in Education budget has been 113.84% over the last 5 years.
Because all children – girls included – deserve quality education, it is time voters held lawmakers accountable so that overall learning prospects improve.