Published Date: Jun 26, 2012
CITIZENS ENGAGEMENT IS VITAL FOR QUALITY EDUCATION DELIVERY: SHAHNAZ WAZIR ALI
Quality research on education is important and an organized civil society effort, along with media, is vital to engage the political leadership for political ownership of education and to bring this subject into public debate’ said Shahnaz Wazir Ali, MNA-PPP and Co-Chair, Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF) while chairing the seminar on “Social accountability in education and launch of Citizens Report Card (CRC)” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Monday. She said, citizens’ engagement is vital for quality education and the only way of bringing improvement in education sector in Pakistan is to hold public and political officials accountable.
Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator, Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) and Fayyaz Yaseen of SDPI also spoke on the occasion. Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Research Fellow and Head, Economic Growth Unit, SDPI moderated the proceedings and maintained social accountability is must because government’s accountability mechanisms have failed to deliver adding that social accountability can address a range of issues in education including identification of ghost schools, teachers’ absence and infrastructure unavailability.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali argued that dilapidated state of education cannot be ignored as it is interlinked with socio-political state system including governance, democratic process, economic growth, health and human rights etc. She said,
only educated and informed youth can ensure positive transformation of Pakistan into a stable progressive society. She said, findings of this study confirm the poor state of education in Pakistan including in the federal capital and added that a watch dog group of civil society should actively work with political parties and their leadership to turn the education sector a political agenda in their election manifestos. She said one uniformed school system, improvement in public schools structure, increase in education budget as well as its appropriate utilization, school-based budgeting, and creating a federal mechanism on article 25-A of the constitutions are some of the necessary steps to improve the state of education in the country. She suggested of holding formal meeting with Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to address the underlying gaps in federal education institutes identified in Citizen Report Card.
Fayyaz Yaseen briefed participants on salient features of the report and said, the study employed Citizen Report Cards (CRC), one of the social accountability tools, to assess user’s satisfaction on provision of quality education in public schools in the target areas of two slums in federal capital. He explained that Citizen Report Cards (CRCs) are participatory surveys that seek user feedback on the performance of public services. He was of the view that increased peoples participation can push governments in setting their policies right and improve education service in public schools.
He said the study reveals that about 40 percent of students and parents are not satisfied with the quality of education provided in public schools. The report also highlights that there are not enough public schools available for children, particularly for girls and majority of public schools lack basic facilities such as clean drinking water, toilets, computer labs and science labs. He said teaching methods at the public schools are obsolete and Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) remain non-functional while urging their better coordination and functioning. He said the report is result of recent SDPI study conducted in collaboration with Affiliated Network for Social Accountability South Asia Region (ANSA-SAR) to improve education services in public schools by sensitising people on social accountability concept while holding the public officials accountable.
Zehra Arshad expressed that social accountability is a political process which relates to empowerment of communities. Stressing on vigilant citizenry, she said the civil society should sensitize and mobilise the marginalized and discriminated public for their rights and entitlements. She said the civil society should constructively engage the strong informal voices of public for constructive engagement with formal decision-making structures to hold them accountable and transparent while managing public affairs.