Public service delivery is impacted by the role of locally organised communal groups. A lot of meaningful development work is focused on delivering sustainable community-based solutions because such organisations are more effective. Being the direct beneficiaries of policy implementation interventions, their interests are self-serving. For these communal groups, quality and timeliness of solutions are important. This addresses almost all management concerns. With government agencies, particularly those in education, directly funding and monitoring these organisations.
Functional Parent Teacher Councils were the immediate goal of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department (E&SED). It was the key to ensure that reforms envisioned by the education sector were implemented in their true spirit. These local bodies proved vital in addressing issues like missing facilities, teachers’ attendance, enrollment and dropout rate in schools. This has been evident through results compiled by the District Performance Evaluation System (DPES).
DPES was introduced in September last year and it monitors various aspects of service delivery in the education sector. With UK support, E&SED developed a quantitative index to calculate the scores of all districts based on a set of education indicators. They include student learning outcomes, attendance rate, and progress on development projects in schools, enrollment, and provision of textbooks to students, percentage of provision of stipends, delivery of furniture, optimal students-teacher ratio and teachers’ attendance in schools.
The objective of DPES is to assess district performance on key education indicators in line with the education sector plan and to introduce a reward mechanism for better performance. Every month, the KP E&SED conducts district ranking and the best performing districts are rewarded while the worst performing districts are penalised and the course corrected.
According to the recent results, 15 districts have improved their performance compared to the previous ranking. Kohat and Swabi are the leading districts, in terms of improving their overall scores. Districts with highest improvements in provision of school facilities in November are Torghar (16%), Lakki (16%), Tank (12%) and Peshawar (12%). Likewise, districts with exceptional improvement along functional PTCs are Mardan (32%), Charsadda (27%), Hangu (21%) and Swabi (20%).
Every child has the right to have free access to quality education according to the Constitution. Delivering on this promise means that each school in every community of the province matters. This requires communities to align themselves with service delivery goals. PTCs helped ensure transparency and quality for the betterment of their communities. Improvements in each district contributed directly in improving overall results. The enrollment rate has increased from 3.4% to 5%, teachers’ attendance improved by 2% in the province with 5% improvement seen in six districts.
In the last five years, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation in the K-P education sector. These changes have restored faith in public education and these efforts will pay off in the longer run. We have saved a generation from the criminal neglect of state. These reforms must be replicated elsewhere.
These results are the most suitable response to criticism faced by the current government because of their excessive public spending on education throughout their term. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the upcoming elections. They have delivered on their promise of prioritising education above everything.
It is reassuring to know that people’s trust in their representatives has been repaid with the state addressing priority concerns. It is a win-win for everyone. Democratic values are reaffirmed through communal involvement in effective public sector interventions. The rankings reaffirm that pledge.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2018.
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