Status: Completed Start Date: Jul 2014 End Date: Jun 2015 Geographic Coverage: Sindh and Baluchistan Focus Area: Education SDG Goal: 4 Ensure inclusive and quality education for all Implementing Partner: SPO Funding Partner: Alif Ailan-DFID
The country’s development is usually perceived through the status of literacy of its inhabitants.
Unfortunately, the government admits that Pakistan is on the lowest rung of the ladder in education spending, though it falls among the middle income countries of the world. Even more alarming is the issue of inefficient use of allocated funds with high proportions remaining unspent and those that are spent contributing little to good quality education. With the recent devolution of education from a federal to a provincial subject, it remains to be seen how the provinces tackle the problems of the education sector.
There remain 5.1 million Pakistani children of primary school age who are out of school. This is the second highest in the world and is over twice as many as in India. Of the poorest 20%, a tragic 2 in 3 girls do not go to school; one of the worst gender inequalities in the world. It is also observed that the children who make it to school suffer from the incapacity of the government to administer adequate education.
In this regard Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) implemented a 12 months long project in Sindh and Baluchistan province by collaborating with Alif Ailan (DFID funded).
The specific objectives of the project were to;
• Create demand to facilitate supply side in ensuring improved education facts in government schools by working around the indicators of children’s enrolment, quality of education, budgetary spending in schools in the target districts.
• Create demand to improve teachers’ enrolment in the government schools in the target districts.
The project aimed to rollout a multi-tiered rights-based advocacy campaign seeking structural improvement in the education profile of target districts/schools. Grassroots mobilization was carried out as part of sensitizing to strengthen voices of citizens. This approach was effective because citizens learnt to articulate their unmet demands such as provision of appropriate school buildings and surrounding environment, teachers and grants to maintain, update and upscale the facilities through focused advocacy campaigns in the target districts.
The tools such as protest rallies, teachers’ enrolment drive by the citizens, mobile/sms and electronic media campaigns were employed as part of grassroots activism to notify and to hold to account the elected political leaders and education department officials against malpractices in the education system. While rolling-out the campaign, SPO continued to draw on its unique strengths of the district-wide civil society networks (CSNs), partner organizations and District Steering Committees (DSCs).
As a result;
• The demand -side interventions included two protest rallies (of a minimum of five hundred people each) in a district, and extensive media coverage of the same
• The demand-side intervention included the deployment of a ‘teachers-enrolment’ drive by the citizens, with a minimum of ten activities and access to a hundred government school teachers. The teachers-enrolment was targeted towards teachers who have not shown up for work for more than six months
• An SMS -based campaign (districts facts, budget, out-of-school-children, teachers’ absenteeism, education managers’ corruption, etc.) shall was launched in each district. The SMS campaign targeted at least five thousand recipients in each district.
• The supply-side intervention included an address by the respective provincial or national assembly member to the rally participants/constituents showing his/her commitment to the cause of education, and a tour of at least ten government schools in his/her constituency.
The data on the education profile of each district was provided by Alif Ailaan. Therefore, to ensure integrated approach and leverage on each other’s strengths, the above mentioned deliverables were attained through a campaign that was based on Alif Ailaan provided data, as well as information collected from members of the civil society in the respective districts.
The project was huge success which enhanced commitment of the respective Member National Assembly and Member Provincial Assembly towards the cause of education, and a tour of at least ten government schools in his/her constituency in the target district. Also the issue of teachers’ absenteeism was addressed to an extent that maximum 100 government school teachers were brought back to their appointed places in the schools in the target districts. The Mass awareness among the citizens about the district education indicators was created for holding the provincial and district education functionaries accountable for their roles and responsibilities.