Out of school: Why incentives fail to attract children

Panelists say there is neither proper infrastructure nor willing teachers


Mariam Shafqat November 05, 2016
PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: Panellists discussed why a lot of children chose to remain out of school despite new incentives and schemes at schools. The dialogue took place at the session titled ’25 million broken promises’ of the festival of ideas on Saturday.

“Today, in the 21st century, we realise enrolment [rate does not increase] due to lack of learning mechanisms at schools,” Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Trustee Baela Raza said on the occasion. “This is the issue of broke promises.”

Although devolution has offered new opportunities for provinces to decide on the ways to spend on education, the country still suffers from chronic financial and budget issues.

“[This is because] resources allocated for education are wasted,” she said. “For instance, there are teachers [are paid but] do not come to schools, even if they do, they’re not able to teach well. We have to find a way to use our resources more efficiently.”

She stressed on the need to utilise the non-salary education budget effectively, on innovative schemes.

“There is a desperate need of resources, but there is an even more desperate need to use what is available properly since we are not utilising them the way we ought to,” she added. “The decisions we make have to be far more ingenious, in an environment which is willing to deploy those decisions effectively.”

Know the other side

An educationist and philanthropist, Muhammad Ayub, who was also present on the occasion, said half of his students eventually leave because of the lack of an infrastructure at his school which is under the open sky.

“They start skipping school when the weather is unfavourable,” he said. “I have been doing this work since a long time, but no one has stepped up to [help me solve the issues].”

However, Rabtt Cofounder Imran Sarwar, who was also in attendance, said a child’s take should be considered when it comes to planning. “We talk about big numbers in terms of budget and enrolment but have we stopped and asked a child how and what they want to study?”

Rabtt is an organisation for education and learning.

“Majority of the out-of-school children do actually want to study but, when they go to school they don't get education,” he said. “They find themselves memorising [the content], with teachers who are there just to pass the five hours of school time.”

According to Sarwar, there is a demand to understand what children want to learn.

The former provincial education minister, Mian Imran Masood, also stressed on the need for better infrastructure.

He said missing boundary walls, seating arrangement and toilets have been one of the biggest reasons why students drop out of schools.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2016.

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