Seminar on  Social Accountability in Education Sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held

PESHAWAR: 23 DECEMBER 2014: A seminar held on Education Sector Budgeting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Adequacy, Efficiency and Effectiveness for Improving Social Accountability by Center for Governance and Public Accountability on Wednesday.   The session was aimed to review and highlight the responsibilities of  public and authorities. Senior Minister for KP and Local Government Inayat Ullah Khan while addressing the session informed that after the local election the local bodies will be empowered to identify the gray zone in education and the authorities would be able to address the issue properly. He added that the country needs a researched based plan for improving education. He was of the view that the current top-down policy is a major halt to the improvement of education.

Dr Bushra Rahim presented her research conducted on the topic of “Looking Beyond the Household: The importance of school quality in understanding educational outcomes of children in rural KP”. The research reads that per teacher student ratio must be lowered down to ensure quality education. Dr Bushra informed the session that the number of girls schools are less than boys which is why the female education ratio dropping down.

Right To Information Commissioner Kaleem Ullah, and Minister for Education Muhammad Atif also addressed the gathering. District Education Officers Male and Female from all the twenty-five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including the far flung districts like Battagram, Chitral, Kohistan, Torghar were also present in the seminar.

Executive Director Centre for Governance and Public Accountability Muhammad Anwar said that currently 25.02 million boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16 who are not in school. He told the audience that In relative terms, the province of Baluchistan is home to the highest proportion of OOSC, followed by the FATA, as many as 66% of children in Baluchistan and 62% in FATA are out of school. Anwar said that 13.7 million girls are out of school whereas 11.4 million boys are out of schools.

Director Finance Saif Usmani gave presentation on strategic budgetary reforms value for money and told the audience that how the budget is made and what reforms should be made.

Minister for Local Government Inayat Ullah Khan told the audience about local government election process and reforms. He told the DEOs’ how it is related to education and how important it is. Inayat Ullah said that after local government system Districts will be able to set their priorities and plan budget accordingly.

RTI Commissioner Kaleem Ullah told the audience about the process of Right to Information Law and the process. He also told them that if PIO doesn’t reply them in the given time period so they have to launch a complaint in Right to Information Commission.

The main objective of the seminar was importance of educated and skilled human resources for long-term sustainable economic growth and development can’t be overlooked. Pakistani constitution guarantees in section 25-A that “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such a manner as determined by law”. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is lagging behind in achieving education targets. According to Education Management Information System (EMIS) data set of 2012-13, a total of 3.93 million students are enrolled in government schools while an estimated 2.5 million children of school going age are out of school.

Education sector has been faced with multitude of challenges in the province starting from inadequate financing, ineffective and inefficient budgeting, low net enrollment rate (NER), weak governance structure, etc. Beside government this is also a civic responsibility to support and contribute in resolving these issues. In the context the participants of the provincial seminar discussed the following identified contributors as;

Education Budgeting and Draft Bill on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Free and Compulsory Education

Education Related Goals under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government’s Integrated Development Strategy and Education Budgeting

Provincial education budgets, an Overview

District education budget, an overview

School based management: Is it a plausible alternative for improving education governance?

Increasing net enrollment ratio and role of communities

Teachers’ voices: How teachers can be more proactive in achieving promoting education governance

Transparency in Education Sector and KP RTI law

Gender based budgeting in education sector

In response to Article 25-A of the Constitution, the Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan provinces have already introduced laws making education compulsory. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the only Province which has not yet enacted a law to ensure children’s Fundamental Right to Education. Since the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has already announced making education free up to 10th grade, legislation and adequate budgetary provision to support Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government’s vision for all children in the province is prerequisite. In this presentation, draft of KP Right to Education bill was discussed.

The IDS truly integrates government priorities under one framework. The earlier development strategies and assessments of government, such as the Comprehensive Development Strategy (CDS), the Economic Growth Strategy (EGS) and the Post-Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) have all been consolidated in the IDS. Any conflicts in these strategies have been addressed and the priorities of current government have been duly incorporated in the IDS.

IDS (Education) aims for improved education service delivery. The strategy adopts a set of outputs to achieve universal primary education through improvements in enrolment and retention rates and to reduce gender disparities in education. The government intends to take steps toward not just quantitative improvements in the education sector but equivalent attention toward training and capacity building of teachers to improve the learning methodologies employed to ensure better qualitative results. The non-availability of basic facilities has resulted in low enrolment and high dropout rates, and the low quality  of  education  in  KP  is  often  reflected  in  the  poor  physical  condition  of  public  schools.  KP was ranked last among all provinces in this regard, with only 32% of all ASER-surveyed primary schools having useable facilities. Expanding the number of schools to fill major gaps in coverage has been a strong focus of investment in recent decades.

CGPA has carried out analysis of KP provincial and selected district education budget analysis. The key finding of the analysis will be shared. At the district level under the budget rules, 2003 as notified by the provincial government, the budget related activities are outlined by a flow. However in practice, the budget rules are not fully implemented. Budgets for new year is prepared on incremental basis without taking the real needs of every school/education needs into consideration. Districts are the sole implementers of all the policies and framework but are not given autonomies in the allocation and estimation of the required needs, often the allocations are done at provincial level without accounting the district needs.

In order to improve the conditions in public schools, the strategy is to focus on measures to improve the institutional factors in school management along with budgetary allocations directed toward improving physical infrastructure. Several steps have been planned, including the strengthening of monitoring and evaluation functions to monitor schools, capacity building for parent–teacher councils (PTCs), and the adoption of road-map with indicators to strengthen citizen engagement and improve awareness on access, quality and completion goals in the Education Sector Plan”.

SBM is prerequisite for achieving education related objectives of this strategy. The successive governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have tried to devolve education to the district and school levels. Such initiatives for devolution have been met with mix results. SBM has a great potential for improving student performance. However, for successful implantation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there is need for aligning roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders at different levels of education management. Many important aspects from best international practices of SBM can be piloted while implementing SBM in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Access to information can effectively contribute in the development process as it promotes accountability and transparency. KP government has recently passed Right to information act which can be used a tool by the service takers to address their issues pertaining to education sector. However, to aware general people to use RTI as an investigative tool has been a challenge and can be overcome with awareness and sensitization in general public.

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