Over the past three years the percentage of out of school children has declined by 26% coupled with an increase in primary net enrollment by 17%.
The direction has been set but there is still a long way to go. Access to education, recruitment of teachers and availability of facilities in schools is the priority of the government.
This was stated by Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Trainings Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman in a consultative meeting arranged by BISP on Waseela-e-Taleem (WeT) where dash board for attendance compliance monitoring of WeT children was showcased.
The meeting was attended by Minister of State and Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon, Secretary BISP Yasmeen Masood, BISP officials, representatives of World Bank, DFID, Alif Ailan, American Refugee Committee and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi.
The Education Minister appreciated the WeT dashboard for monitoring of school attendance compliance and said that synergizing through technology will be game changer for education. BISP WeT is an exemplary programme for promotion of education and needs to be scaled up, so its benefits are amplified.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairperson BISP stated that BISP has created an international best practice by starting monitoring of attendance compliance through technology enabled tablets. This would increase the accuracy and transparency of WeT and help in its expansion. She announced that BISP would give awards to WeT children with highest attendance in order to consolidate the gains made through WeT.
Director WeT Naveed Akbar briefed on the hi-tech application designed by BISP in collaboration with Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) for continuous monitoring of attendance compliance in schools of WeT children. He highlighted that the app is supplemented with GPS that updates the attendance status online. The application has streamlined the attendance collection and payment process by making it easy, efficient and fast with the provision of cross verification facility.
During the meeting, a detailed discussion was held to delve collaboration of BISP with different organization working on education and strengthening linkages with the provincial governments. Amjad Zafar from World Bank appreciated BISP for adopting modern technology for attendance compliance monitoring and said that the additional features on performance of children can be incorporated in the application to gauge the quality of education in schools. Mazhar Siraj from DFID suggested the inclusion of supply assessment interventions in WeT for the improvement of enrollment and retention rates.
Salman Naveed from Alif Ailaan said that strengthening cooperation with the provincial governments and social mobilization at gross root levels can do wonders to increase school enrollment and retention rates. He added that the issue of missing facilities in schools should be addressed at the earliest. Dawood Saqlain from American Refugee Committee stressed on adoption of a planned approach by mapping out of school children in certain areas and then ensuring 100% enrollment in those areas.
The participants agreed that strengthened coordination with stakeholders, sharing of micro supply assessment reports with provincial governments, enhanced coordination with provincial governments for secondary education, linking non compliant families with social mobilizers, increased number of teachers and provision of better facilities at school may result improving the status of education in Pakistan.