NGOS REDUCING EDUCATION POVERTY

TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Apr 26 - May 2, 2010

Limited financing is a hurdle in the way of achieving education for all in Pakistan where the literacy rate is low because of inadequate access to education of major population-a third of school age children are out of school-and poor infrastructure in the public sector schools that cannot accommodate all those who need education.

Education is vital for sustainable development since it develops human trained in the skills of living economically well and socially beneficial lives. In Pakistan, however public sector schools lack the excellence that is needed to arrive at the economic emancipation for all...an indication of human development. Schools are not sufficient in numbers. On the other hand, quality of education is affected by the underfunded infrastructure of public sector schools, which thins out the chance of bringing equivalence in provision of education.

Local and international non-government organisations are supporting the role of the government agencies and education support programmes to improve literacy in the country. NGOs working for not for profits as well as voluntarism, that is for profits, are also building the income capacity of marginalised population living in underdeveloped localities in different provinces in Pakistan through provision of basic education and vocational training.

A common characteristic of underdeveloped areas in Pakistan is its having few schools. Numbers of vocational training centres are far more below the requirements. Even when public sector schools are there, their infrastructure is in complete shambles with dilapidated class rooms, rickety furniture-in most of the schools children sit on ground and study under the sky-and undersized teaching aids. Teachers in these schools are either not qualified or inappropriate in numbers. A low salary of teacher in public sector education is also one of the problems that restrict progress of education development programmes across the country. According to a survey based estimate by a local NGO aggregate salaries come to around Rs450 billion while public sector total expenditures on education sector including schools, colleges, and universities are not more than Rs300 billion. To solve the problem of poor infrastructure in public sector schools, ActionAid has suggested 'School based budgeting' to the government of Pakistan. According to the anti-poverty agency, the method favours allocation of budget in accordance with the valuation by school administration instead of the government. By this way, government can allocate funds as per actual needs and thus it can eliminate mess of surplus and deficit.

There are several non-government organisations and agencies working in various cities, districts, towns, and villages of Pakistan to assist primary state role of providing education to people. Their operations are supplementary to the government works in some places while in many other locations where state functionary stumbles on paucity of funds they take a whole responsibility of empowering the underserved people with education. Intermediaries NGOs have developed a successful concept of involving local service providers to attain educational objective in rural areas of Pakistan. These NGOs make a liaison between resource provider and community building organization. They disburse the resources including funds to CBOs in return of service charges. They are working as volunteers but for profits. With funds generated from personal sources as well as local and foreign charities, NGOs in education field in main cities as well as in far-flung destinations nationwide have undertaken non-formal education for girls and multi grade teaching training (Adult Basic Education Society); female education as a theme of village community development project in Taluka Mithi and Diplo, building primary schools for female in Karachi (Baanh Beli); women education and skill training in Sindh (Behbud Association); development of handicraft centers and education for working women (Caritas); and building tailoring skills of rural in Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa (De Laas Gul Welfare Program). Local NGOs with mixed jobs including healthcare cannot separate themselves from undertaking education projects besides their core activities most of the time. Therefore, there are many organisations not named because of their diversification of operational fields. International agencies are also directly operating in the country for example European Commission through the rural social development programme, Canadian International Development Agency and the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada through the Pakistan-Canada social institutions development programme, and Aga Khan Foundation (USA) and USAID through institutional management and certification programme.

Equivalence in provision of education can be ensured alone when community participation will increase. To this end, there is a need of ample resources to make education promote human equality and disdain religious discrimination. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is building awareness of policy makers and in them inducing realisation of rights of religiously diverse groups. Alternative textbooks for the non-Muslim students are being suggested.

SDPI, policy adviser for the government, said to have some community schools in Sindh included in the list of participants agreed to adopt selected materials for minorities. Similarly, advocacy work has started to persuade ministry of education to incorporate materials for minority in textbooks. According to SDPI, the National Book Foundation will be publishing for students of grades 3, 6, 9, and 11 these books in the academic year 2010.

Religious tolerance is ought to be encouraged through education and at school level conciliatory texts should be disseminated to uphold religious harmony that is waning in Pakistan's society. This has been reflected in community riots in central province recently. The non-government organizations as well as government agencies are working to increase likelihood of equivalent opportunity of education for male and female. Female enrolment rate in schools in Pakistan is far below than that of male. Household spending on education of women is also insignificant as compared to expenditures on their male siblings. Women in rural areas engage in hard menial works and exposed to harsh lives. Many researches revealed that rural women engage in cotton-picking activities in cotton-growing belts of Sindh and Punjab as non-paid workers and without having ownership of farmlands. They spend their whole lives without proper nutrition and healthcares. Education is recognised a means by researchers, which can give them an access to necessities of life.