INTERVIEW: DR.ISHRAT HUSAIN
DEAN & DIRECTOR INSTITUTE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

LACK OF COMMITMENT & GOOD GOVERNANCE ARE THE BASIC ISSUES OF EDUCATION SECTOR IN PAKISTAN

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 17 - 23, 2008

Dr. Ishrat Husain, Dean & Director Institute of Business Administration (IBA) when asked to comment on what it is generally criticized the low budgetary allocations for the cause of education in Pakistan besides placing it as a low priority area in Pakistan .

Dr. Ishrat on the back of his prestigious background being the Chief of the Central Bank in Pakistan and also the Chief of National Commission for Government Reforms however did not agree with the idea and said in a firm tone that it is not only the money which is the problem towards promotion of education; there is a basic problem of governance of educational institutions. We have beautiful buildings, we have furnished the primary schools, we have given them furniture and provided the required infrastructure but the teacher is not there because he is doing something else because he has been appointed by some political party for their own purpose so he is not interested in teaching and therefore what is the purpose of investment when you have done all this by investing money but their children are being taught. "I visited a village where one thatched roof built a room where a young girl just matriculate, getting one third of the salary of a government teacher, was teaching with a lot of commitment to 20 girls.

In that one thatched roof school the quality of instructions was much better than all these millions of rupees we spent. So the people who talk about raising the expenditure on education are missing the issue. The basic issue is that in government schools there is no accountability for results. So you keep on spending money or think of good money for nothing. He disagreed with the approach that we keep on raising the money so it goes to the pockets of some contractors, some teachers and it does not go to improve the quality of education.

Actually the common citizens are being hijacked by the government functionaries. The poor have to access to the authorities to get their problems resolved. The government teachers are not performing their duties honestly. How can you run an institution while the head of the government colleges or schools have no powers and the education officers never turn up to ensure discipline? He said that there is a need of development school management committees by allowing representation to the citizens. Citing his experience in a small village of Kharian , Dr. Ishrat said teachers are coming to schools regularly and doing well because the parents-teachers association which was involved in the management of the school, the teachers were coming on time; they were delivering lectures to the students. The students were doing the homework. So if you have the supervision and accountability things do even in the government schools. On one hand your schools which are under lock and key because no body that is looking after them and here in Kharian the same government school which is being run very well because the teachers and parents have formed an association whereby the parents are looking at the performance of the schools. If there are some difficulties they help. So that is the area of lacking i.e. the good governance of responsibility and accountability, Dr. Ishrat asserted with great confidence.

Being the Chairman of the National Commission for Government Reforms Dr . Ishrat has recommended following reforms for the education sector to achieve the desired results:

EDUCATION SECTOR REFORMS

Since independence successive governments have acknowledged the importance of education and have made efforts and planned! implemented policies to make education accessible to all and also to improve quality education in the country. The results have not been very encouraging and there is a lot that still needs to be done at the federal, provincial and district levels to -achieve these objectives. NCGR recommendations are being made with the sole aim of facilitating the stakeholders in this most important sector, which is vital to every aspect of human progress and development.

SITUATION ANALYSIS

The National Commission for Government Reforms (NCGR) is mandated suggest reforms in the governance structure of education and ensuring access to .the ordinary citizens and therefore the recommendations will touch upon these issues-and not cover other important issues connected with the context, pedagogy etc.

The Commission would like to express satisfaction that clarity has emerged i'1 the division of responsibilities for various segments of education. Higher education and curriculum will fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, College education, vocational and technical education under the Provincial Governments, while primary, secondary up to Matric will be managed by the District Governments.

The Commission also realizes that the outstanding issue of the Higher Secondary education (Class XI and Xll) is under active discussion of the Council of Education Ministers and will be resolved amicably in the near future.

The Commission also realizes that the outstanding issue of the Higher Secondary education (Class XI and Xll) is under active discussion of the Council of Education Ministers and will be resolved amicably in the near future. The working paper on Education Policy was issued in December 2006 for wide stakeholder consultation.

Following the increased availability of resources, the Commission encouraged by the efforts being made by the Federal and provincial governments improve educational outcomes. To varying degrees, the provincial governments launched supply and demand side initiatives, like provision of free text books to students enrolled in grades 1 to 10, in government managed schools, stipends to girls attending classes 6 to 10 and provision of missing physical infrastructural facilities, as measures to improve access to education, reduce dropout rates and narrow gender and intra-provincial regional disparities. The successes achieved to date have been owing to a) the continuing poor quality of physical infrastructure in the form of lack of classrooms, toilets, boundary walls, furniture and dangerous buildings to be able to attract children to schools; and b) the uneven monitoring systems and institutional' implementation capacities at the levels of the provincial and district governments. institutional arrangements and mechanisms, (especially with powers of postings and transfers of even local staff still centralized in the provincial education department holding teachers accountable for service delivery, continue to be weak, as new instruments to improve teacher presence in schools, like hiring of teachers on contract and hence terminable in case of poor performance and school-specific basis, founded on transparent and merit-based criteria (including additional marks for female locals for primary level teachers) only apply to fresh recruits and not the existing of teaching personnel.

Moreover, for a variety of reasons, the achievements of quality improving interventions, in the shape of teacher training, (partly because of the poor ac endowment of the existing stock of teachers-in view of the relaxed professional requirements for induction in the past combined with non-merit, politically recruitments) to enhance their capabilities, curriculum and textbook revisit revamping of examination systems have been lack lustre to date, except for the efforts and results of teacher training in the NWFP.

There is no institutionalized arrangement for greater stakeholder participation and provision of advice by civil society, in policy development and pi: education. Also, the participation of parents, the beneficiaries of service delivery at the local level could be more effectively harnessed through the existing Management Committees Parent Teacher Associations, to improve the environment for schooling.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The Guiding Principles for the recommendations are: (1) Merit based induction of teachers.

(2) Curriculum and text book revision and revamping of examination system.

(3) Institutionalized arrangement for greater stakeholder's participation in policy, planning and implementation.

(4) Involvement of civil society in policy development and planning of education.

(5) Teachers training to enhance capacity.

(6) Narrow gender intra provincial disparities.

(7) Improvement in infrastructure.

NCGR RECOMMENDATIONS

In the light of the above discussion, the Commission recommends the following proposals for the consideration of the Federal and Provincial Governments. The recommendations are to be further refined, developed and implemented by the Federal, Provincial and local governments, in respect to their respective areas of responsibility

DISTRICT BOARDS

The Commission proposes the establishment of District Education Boards to be headed by a nominee of Zila Nazim, selected through a process of Search Committee.

He/ She should be supported by a Board, comprising a membership of both officials and civil society representatives, with EDO (Education) functioning as the Secretary of the Board. The non official members of the Board will be selected by a search committee, consisting of the Education Minister, District Nazim and one of the Vice Chancellors of the public sector Universities in the province.

In case of Balochistan and NWFP where the number of universities is limited, a Judge of the High Court may be appointed instead. The establishment of such a Board will provide the much needed stakeholder/civil society participation in education planning and the introduction and design of initiatives, to improve educational outcomes. The main functions of the Board will be;

(a) Developing criteria and standards for establishing primary and secondary schools in the district and ensuring that these criteria are met in practice.

(b) Ensuring that the selection of teachers is made in a transparent manner and their training is rigorously carried out by developing and enforcing recruitment and promotion criteria, contracting procedures, teacher deployment, pre-service and in-service training.

(c) Establishing institutional arrangements and empowering Education Officers to inspect schools and receiving inspection reports for initiating action against teacher absenteeism, laxity of standards and other lapses in the smooth functioning of schools

(d) Developing criteria, standards and acting as the accreditation /registration body for private schools in the district.

(f) Working with communities and civil society organizations, such as CCBs, RSPs, NCHD, and PP AF etc in enrolment of out of school children.

The above is a listing of some of the critical functions to be performed by the District Education Boards. Once an agreement is reached on the need for such Boards, the details can be worked out. A similar institutionalized arrangement may be considered for the provincial level, to help the Education Department in matters of policy formulation and monitoring educational outcomes of various initiatives, implemented with provincial support.

SEPARATION OF TEACHING AND MANAGEMENT CADRES

In this age of specialization and to improve educational outcomes, there is a need to develop an organizational structure under which there are separate teaching and management cadres. Any teacher having acquired 5 years experience, either in schools or college, having aptitude for management, can apply for selection to the management cadres in schools and college streams. They would be tested for aptitude, suitability and skills and those selected, would assume the positions of Head teachers and Principals, rising to other management positions in the Districts and provinces. After their selection, they should be given rigorous training at educational management academies, including soft skills and those found fit should be inducted into the management cadres. The management cadres should be centralized at the provincial levels, to provide a variety of experience and better career advancement prospects. Those choosing to stay in the teaching cadres should be allowed to advance without hindrance to higher grades

The management and supervisory personnel will have to be appropriately empowered administratively to hold service providers, teachers accountable for service delivery. For example they should able to at least penalize absenteeism say through deduction from salary for days absent. The overnight service delivery and paper implementation of initiatives needs to be improved by using technology and installing better management systems (learning from government of Punjab ) by enhancing the monitoring and supervision capacities and providing mobility to supervisory layers.

EMPOWERMENT OF EDUCATIONAL MANAGERS

Following generally accepted principles of management, the head teachers/principals of schools will also have to be given administrative authority, (if they are to be held responsible for school results in public examinations) to initiate appropriate action against recalcitrant teachers, e.g. those habitually absent or not teaching their full quota of hours regularly, even when attending school.

INCREASING FEMALE ENROLMENT RATIOS

As one of the millennium development goals is to raise the female enrolment ratio in the rural and under develop areas of the country, it is suggested that female teachers may be employed at primary school level wherever possible. Experience in Pakistan has revealed that even conservative parents are willing to send their girl child to a primary coeducational school, if a female teacher is employed. This practice will utilize the existing physical facilities to the maximum and provide comfort to conservative parents in these areas, to send their girls to primary schools.

SCHOOL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEES/ PARENT TEACHERS ASSOCIATIONS

SMCs/ PTAs should be empowered through greater administrative autonomy, (with the majority of members and Chairperson from among parents) and financial powers. Also, more financial resources should be placed at their command, (as is being done in the Punjab) to recruit teachers to fill temporary vacancies, monitor teacher absenteeism and based on simplified spending processes, utilize allocated funds to improve the schooling environment. The provincial and district governments may wish to consider granting more powers to

SMC/PT As of schools in urban areas, (which are less likely to be hijacked by local influentials) and focusing their limited outreach, owing to scarce financial and human resources to the monitoring and supervision of schools in rural and under develop areas.

ROLE OF PROVINCIAL/DISTRICT GOVERNMENTS

Since the operational aspects of service delivery under the devolution framework have been delegated to district governments, the role of the provincial governments should focus on policy planning, monitoring and mentoring, except for College education, vocational and technical training, which will be the direct responsibility of the Provincial Government in all aspects. To this end, therefore, powers of recruitment, postings and transfers of teachers for primary, secondary and high schools need to be delegated to district governments. As pointed out above the District Education Boards will carry out the selection and recruitment of teachers on behalf of the District Governments.

FUNDING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND TEACHERS

To address the lack of basic physical infrastructure in schools, the Federal and the provincial governments particularly in Punjab have undertaken projects for providing additional funds on school completion basis, (provision of all missing facilities, including teachers) to district governments in the form of conditional grants, which are linked to need and overall performance of local governments in the sector, in the shape of agreed outcome-based performance indicators. We recommend that other provincial governments should. also provide such conditional grants to district governments, for expeditious completion, of missing facilities, including teachers in schools. In some districts a rationalization on of teacher redeployment, from schools with low enrolment and high teacher strength, to schools with high enrolment and low teacher strength, will take care of some of the imbalances and distortions.

CURRICULUM

The Commission strongly endorses the changes, reforms and improvements being jointly considered by the Federal and Provincial governments in the curriculum and has nothing much to add.

TESTING AND EXAMINATION SYSTEM

The reforms underway to improve the testing and examination systems aimed at enhancing critical thinking and analytical skills should be taken to their logical culmination, as examinations are the most important determinant of the quality of education. We would however like to urge the provinces to adopt a uniform system, so that the variations in the standards do not put the students of any province at a relative disadvantage. To this end, proliferation of examination boards should be discouraged and ultimately a National Testing Service should be entrusted the task of designing the examinations, while the boards become responsible for administration of these examinations and certification. We also recommend uniformity throughout the country for the examination boards, placement and reporting relationships within the Provincial Government.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP

The private sector is playing an increasing role in the provision of education at all levels of education. Even less affluent households are voting with their feet by selecting private schools (most charging fees under Rs.300/month) for their children. Hence, there is a need for greater public private partnerships through Adopt-a- School programs, allowing the private sector to use government school buildings for evening classes/schools and reviewing, for possible replication, the programs of the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), for instance its initiative to fund private schools, catering to less affluent households, by providing such institutions Rs.300 per child enrolled per month and making continued financing contingent upon the students attaining a minimum score in 6 monthly tests, administered by the PEF. The guidelines developed by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy on Public-Private Partnership, should be examined by the Provincial Governments and if acceptable widely disseminated and circulated among the private sector and NGOS.

The Federal and the Provincial Education Foundations should also consider the options of providing subsidies to private schools, for teachers or paying each school a lump sum grant to secure placement for a talented student from a less privileged household. This would ensure that poor families are able to obtain access for their talented children, to private institutions of their choice, without incurring considerable expenses involved. The budgets of the Foundations should be increased to fund these subsidies.

MERIT BASED SCHOLARSHIP

In case the subsidies for teachers is accepted as the preferred route, the Provincial: Governments should consider establishing an Endowment Fund for merit based' scholarships for deserving students.

CONCLUSION

All these recommendations are expected to improve governance in public sector education and also help in involving the private sector in a more meaningful way in education, planning, development and implementation in an institutionalized manner.

IMF approved a $7.6 billion for Pakistan.

IMF has approved a $ 7.6 billion bailout package for Pakistan as a standby arrangement.


PAKISTAN'S LIQUID FOREIGN RESERVES POSITION

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 6,736.5 million on 8th November, 2008. The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under: -

i) Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan :

$ 3,496.7 million.

ii) Net foreign reserves held by banks (other than SBP):

$ 3,239.8 million

iii) Total liquid foreign reserves:

$ 6,736.5 million