According to research, the decentralisation of power (DOP) plan, established and implemented for nine years as an alternative to the district government system has proved effective in controlling the dropout rate for students.
The research was conducted by National University of Modern Languages (NUML) PhD students Tahir Javed and Zahid Bashir. The study surveyed Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra districts in Hazara and showed that the DOP plan decreased the dropout rate of students at the secondary school level.
The study lists “dropout” as the withdrawal of a student before graduation and helps in measuring a school’s failure or success.
The DOP plan played a vital role in enhancing education at the basic level, according to the report. After the plan’s implementation, it became easier for school administration to run their institutions in a more efficient manner which helped decrease the dropout rate.
The study also discovered that the dropout rate of males was easier to control than the rate of females.
The mean dropout rate among male and female students at the secondary level was 15.28 before the DOP plan was implemented which was reduced to 9.1 with a deviation of 4.7.
The study recommended that education department officials at the district level should be empowered to put an end to political interference.
Parent-teacher associations (PTAs) should also be made more effective with incentives given to parents to send their children to school.
When approached for comments, Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Abbottabad Riaz Khan Swati said that though the DOP plan did help to improve the education sector, he was not sure of the figures mentioned in the study because it was not clear which schools served as models.
EDO Education Haripur Abdul Qadoos Azad said that under the DOP plan, new seats were created for the decentralisation of power but the responsibility was concentrated in the EDO’s office.
“Under the previous system, two secondary and two primary district officers would look after the district,” he added.
On the question of controlling the dropout rate of boys, he said that the idea for a Provincial Technical Committees (PTC) and PTAs already existed, and when implemented in collaboration with international donor agencies, “the results were indeed remarkable”.
Introduced in 2000, the DOP plan was implemented through the Local Government Ordinance 2001 countrywide but was wrapped up in 2010 when the sitting government decided to replace it with the previous system.
The plan’s primary objective was to empower the masses at the grassroots level and was designed on the basis of five fundamental principals: devolution of political powers, decentralisation of administrative machinery, de-concentration of management functions, diffusion of power-authority nexus and the distribution of resources at the district level.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.