KARACHI: In order to educate four million out-of-school children in the province, the Sindh government has been urged to expand the scope of its project under which good quality education can be provided by making arrangements with private schools at comparatively low cost of Rs300 per student.
"The Sindh government has failed to provide free and compulsory education to students up to 14 years, as over 50% of the children in the province [approximately 4,200,000] are presently not attending school at all," said Saad Amanullah, president of the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan (Pilap) at a press conference on Friday.
Even those who are attending government schools are getting very poor quality education and even children in grade eight cannot write a single sentence in Urdu, he said. "Over 50% of government schools in Sindh do not have clean drinking water, electricity, lavatories or boundary walls," he added.
Amanullah believed that the way to promote education in Sindh is government funding but through private delivery. He said that the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) is already educating 250,000 children under a similar scheme at a cost of Rs500 per child per month. On the other hand, he added, the government's expense to educate children in government schools is over Rs3,000 per child per month.
He said the quality of education is also better for students enrolled in private schools under the SEF programme as compared to the government schools, as the management and teachers of private schools know that if children are not educated properly, parents or the SEF may move them to another private school. Government school management and teachers, on the other hand, have no such worries.
The Pilap president said the private sector can build and operate the schools and the government can provide a subsidy of Rs500 per child per month at the primary level and Rs1,000 per child per month at the middle and secondary levels to send under-privileged children to these schools under SEF.
Out of the 45,000 government schools in Sindh, the buildings of about 30,000 schools are categorised as 'dangerous' or 'needing repair', he said, adding that by allowing the private sector to build and operate low-cost private schools under SEF, the government will be able to free up the development budget to upgrade the buildings of existing schools and provide basic facilities to students in these schools.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.