Punjab Education Programme
Sometimes it amazes me the way politicians are bombarded with criticism in almost every talk show. I just keep wondering if these politicians are really so corrupt and incapable or is it just the perception created in print and electronic medium. Incompetence of federal government and stories of their corruption keep on surfacing literally every day but why Punjab government is being targeted both by federal Government and other provisional governments and is the prime target of few anchors and opposition leaders. The recent criticism has been that Punjab government doesn’t invest in educational reforms and is more focused on building infrastructure. This is not really true factually as a lot of work has been done in the education sector over the past few years by the administration of Shehbaz Sharif.
In the following few lines, we shall discuss Shehbaz Sharif willingness and hunger to introduce key reforms in education sector, a back-bone in building a nation and insurance for a vibrant and healthy future for generations to come. Key Structural reforms have been introduced in all sectors of education system, introducing innovative schemes and ideas. Punjab’s spending on education is roughly 195 Billion of total Punjab budget which was over 780 billion rupees in 2012-13 Budgets, double the amount which Punjab used to spend in Pervaiz Elahi Era.
Major Structural reforms have been initiated in education sector from primary to higher Education. Comprehensive programmes have been initiated worth billions of rupees to tackle the missing facilities in schools. Over 3000 Schools have been upgraded under this programme both at primary and middle level. Similarly over 70 schools have been declared as Centre of Excellence due to their research and maintenance of education standards. Over 30,000 teachers have been inducted purely on merit. According to a recent survey ASER (Annual Status Of Education Report, Pakistan largest ever citizen based report), Punjab is way ahead than other provinces in eliminating missing facilities, provides 91% of useable water, 85-86% functional toilets and 2.8 class rooms on average per school.
Punjab Education Programme was started with the help of UK Government which started paying dividends by providing education to millions of school going children and has become the largest voucher scheme in the world. The programme has helped in raising the attendance to 88%, a remarkable feat in itself which also means 20 million children in School.
Danish School System is an innovative project initiated in less developed areas and for under privileged class, earning less than or equal to five thousands rupees. Boarding and lodging facilities are provided free of cost in these schools. This system is facing a lot of criticism based on politics. These schools are built not only in Lahore, Rawalpindi but also in Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali, Attock, Chistian, Hasilpur etc.
The Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF), largest ever in the history of Pakistan, is a flagship programme of Punjab government providing scholarships close to 40 thousand students. Rs. 6 billion were allocated in 2015 alone for this purpose.
Key reforms were introduced in Punjab Board On line System which is essential to eliminate corruption at Board level. It faced severe resistance from clerks & private school mafia, Board Offices but the system was incorporated. According to some Independent analysts, close to 90% of corruption was eliminated after successful implementation of this System
Punjab witnessed digital revolution in last few years by awarding thousands of laptops, establishing state of the art digital library in Murree and connecting it to major Universities, Arfa Karim Technology Park and IT University established in it under the leadership of Pakistani IT genius Dr. Umar saif. Similarly, a Knowledge city at Rakh Dera Chahal has been approved by the cabinet. These IT reforms can bring in Revolution in coming years and decades to come.
These measures definitely are appreciable and other provinces should also follow these initiatives in order to contribute in the economy of Pakistan. These educational reforms are set to achieve one goal: no child without education!