Punjab’s education reforms the most complex and ambitious amidst persisting challenges

Alif Ailaan

Lahore: The Government of Punjab has invested in the most complex and ambitious set of education reforms around human resource management, school infrastructure and overall education sector governance that have produced positive outcomes over the past 5 years. However, significant challenges in actualising reform ambitions continue to persist. This was highlighted in “2013-2018 Five years of education reform: Punjab Wins, losses and challenges for the future 2018-2023”, a report published by education campaign Alif Ailaan on Wednesday.
The launch of the report was attended by Minister School Education Rana Mashood Ahmad, Secretary School Education Dr. Allah Baksh Malik, Ateed Riaz (Co-founder, The Citizens Foundation), Dr Mariam Chughtai (Associate Dean, LUMS School of Education), Dr Baela Raza Jamil (CEO, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi), Dr Faisal Bari (Senior Research Fellow at IDEAS), and Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan (Spokesperson, Government of Punjab).
The event was also attended by prominent lawmakers from across the country, including Sardar Hussain Babak, Faisal Subzwari, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Raza Haroon, Usman Kakar, Samia Raheel Qazi, Ahmad Iqbal Chaudhry, Amna Sardar, Barrister Masood, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, Noor Saleem Khan, and Waqas Jafri.
The Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme (PESRP) and School Education Reforms Roadmap provided a holistic strategy for achieving systemic sectoral improvements over the last five years. These reforms put a special emphasis on higher enrolment and retention, improved learning outcomes and quality of education, and a better managed, monitored and administered education sector.
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Some of the flagship efforts under the programme include developing improved monitoring systems, improving the provision and quality of teaching, restructuring of governance systems through District Education Authorities (DEA), a robust public-private partnership programme through Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), and the development of interventions that strengthen incentives and accountability for service delivery performance.
The last five years witnessed a substantial level of political and financial investment backed by unprecedented technical innovation in tackling the education crisis in Punjab, but the gains of the reforms enacted are still fragile. Enrolment, retention, learning outcomes, public financial management, school infrastructure, discrepancies in the data regime and centralisation of all these efforts continue to pose substantial challenges to the provincial authorities.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister School Education Rana Mashood said ‘‘Punjab Government has started Chief Minister’s Stocktake Initiative and worked towards Public-Private Partnerships that have helped not only with accountability but also policy-making ensuring effective and timely solutions.’’

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