In an innovatory move the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has trained parents and teachers how best to use the funds that have been allocated to the schools their children attend. The money is for the refurbishment of the schools and is an attempt to involve communities in the running of state-operated schools that also offer free books, stationery, uniforms and sometimes shoes for the children attending.
This goes well beyond the traditional parent-teacher groups that operate in some areas and moves more into the realm of public-private partnership. The numbers involved are considerable. The K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Department (K-PESED) has trained 25,000 parent-teacher councils (PTCs) on the basics of engineering. They signed a contract with an engineering company to provide engineering support that will better enable the PTCs to provide basic facilities or replace old and worn-out facilities using government funding. Parents are also to be involved as independent monitors ensuring that money is spent as intended.
This truly is out-of-the-box thinking. Any move towards proactive engagement between schools and parents and by extension the pupils themselves has the potential for a range of spin-offs that go beyond repairing the fabric of the school. The students will see — be aware of outside of school — the engagement of their parents and begin to understand the importance of collaboration to achieve a mutually-beneficial goal. Parents will gain a sense of ownership in a way they never existed before and the schools themselves, often distant and impermeable, will open up to new ways of working and thinking. Local communities will be empowered and with ownership comes a sense of pride. It is difficult to find anything negative to say about this project which is going to need to be monitored closely over a period of at least a year to determine its effectiveness. If deemed successful then it should be replicated nationally. Good news from the education sector is extremely rare, and even rarer to hear of a practical method of rolling back wastage and corruption in the use of government funds. A win-win for all concerned and we wish well to this initiative.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2018.