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January 20, 2015
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All is shambolic amid vows and enhanced budgetary share

Karachi

January 20, 2015

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Karachi
At least 60 percent of Sindh’s schools remain without drinking water facilities, 40 percent without electricity and 35 percent without even boundary walls. Similarly, the province’s education sector continues to host over 40,000 ghost teachers and 5,229 ghost schools; all of this despite the allocation of over Rs145 billion for education in the annual budget.
These reprehensible facts were disclosed at the Provincial Meeting on Education Governance held on Monday. Participants of the roundtable discussion – organised by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with ILM Ideas, a three-year UKAid funded program – included key stakeholders of the provincial education sector such as Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho.
Emphasising the need for an effective partnership between the government and media outlets, they said that enhanced accountability remained imperative for any chance of improvements in Sindh’s education system.
The core objective of the ‘Ilm-o-Agahi’ initiative, it was said, was to improve accountability and media coverage of priority education issues and build consensus on education policies by engaging stakeholders, including policy makers.
Facilitating the group discussion, Puruesh Chaudhary, a development and strategic communications professional who heads Mishal Pakistan, said, “Education remains a neglected theme in Pakistan. While the government has never awarded priority to the sector, the media too has failed to safeguard the right of citizens to education as reporting over these matters severely lacks an accountability perspective.”
Dr Pechuho also stressed the importance of constructive journalism in monitoring government performance in the education sector. “There is a system for accountability but it is undeniably defective,” he said, “When Jam Sadiq Ali was chief minister, 65 schools were set up in a sparsely populated village and the World Bank had later sought an explanation from

the government. Similarly, during Pervez Musharraf's tenure, schools were constructed without any assessments. These actions have resulted in the uneven distribution of schools in Sindh.”
He termed merit-based recruitment of teachers an essential requirement for betterment of Sindh’s education system, and informed the participants that Cabinet approval had been received for public-private schools across the province.
“At least 110 state-of-the-art schools will also soon be established under a USAID initiative, and it would be the media’s responsibility to monitor the quality of these schools,” said Dr Pechuho.
According to the education secretary, almost 90 percent of investment in the education sector went towards infrastructure, but without any positive results. “Today, as many as 150 schools in a major city such as Karachi still have no boundary walls,” he said, “We have missed our Millennium Development Goals, but it is never too late to mend our fences.”

Wisdom unsought
It is high time we start following the concept of organic intellectuals enunciated by
the great Italian Marxist thinker Antonio Gramsci and, by recognising the reciprocal nature of education, seek to learn wisdom from rural folk.
This observation was made by Dr Pechuho while responding to a question by The News regarding the practice of thrusting ideas on rural folk instead of taking guidance from the philosophy of organic intellectuals in areas such as Tharparkar.
“When I was posted at Keti Bunder, villagers told me that the sea flooded their area at each recurring full moon. When the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) was being constructed, local people were adamant that it will bring disaster. I agree that the indigenous populations of these areas are learned people and we should definitely heed their advice,” Pechuho said.

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