The Sindh Education Foundation has handed over the management of 1,200 schools across Sindh to entrepreneurs under its private-public partnership programme, Integrated Education Learning Programme (IELP).
The SEF asked entrepreneurs to apply for school adoption by submitting proposals and they received a staggering 9,600 applications. Each proposal was strictly assessed. There should be no other primary school within a one-kilometre radius of the new one or already established school as this would affect enrolment. No other secondary school should exist within a two-kilometre radius. At least 40 children should be enrolled in primary schools and 30 in elementary and secondary classes. The programme requires the student-teacher ratio to be at least 1:4. Teachers should be paid a minimum of Rs5,000 while at least Rs2,500 should be paid to the support staff. Drinking water and clean toilets are other prerequisites for the IELP selection.
Out of the total applications received, 4,500 were initially shortlisted and 1,500 were finally randomly selected, informed Sadaf Junaid Zuberi, the SEF senior manager.
The final contract signing ceremony was held at the SEF headquarters on Monday where the remaining 300 of the 1,500 selected entrepreneurs sealed their school adoption deal in the presence of Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Pir Mazharul Haq.
Prof Anita Ghulam Ali, the SEF managing director, welcomed the guests and school entrepreneurs and called for operators to take up this opportunity with full honesty and commitment. “You can change the future of thousands of children,” she said.
Lauding the efforts of the SEF, the education minister said that it has been promoting lasting public-private partnerships in the education sector. The government plans to open more schools under this agreement and people who adopt them will be strictly monitored.
The programme was launched in 2009 and was designed to give financial and technical support to new and existing private, community and trust-owned schools throughout the province. Three hundred schools were already working successfully. The project directly reaches 450,000 children.
Each entrepreneur will get a 350-rupee subsidy per child from the Sindh government via the SEF. They will be responsible for the school’s management, monitoring, enrolment, building capacity, community and parent mobilisation and student assessment.
As the project is fully funded IELP students do not pay any fees. SEF will provide textbooks and classroom aides and will also work on teacher training.
IELP follows the SEF’s Promoting Private Schooling in Rural Sindh (PPRS) programme. It is different from the PPRS as it involves both primary and secondary schools.
SEF director of programmes, operations and research, Aziz Kabani, said the aim was to “establish public-private partnership to increase access to and improve the quality of educational services to children in marginalised areas of the province”.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2011.