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MPAs pledge to address education at constituency-level

MPAs pledge to address education at constituency-level

ISLAMABAD: “Most schools in my constituency in Cholistan are not functional. There are no teachers and things like electricity and running water in schools are stuff of dreams,” said PML-Q MPA Dr Mohammad Afzal from Bahawalpur at a conference on Thursday.

“There is only one high school in four constituencies,” he added. Members of provincial assemblies were invited to share their experiences of constituency level engagements in education at a policy dialogue organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences (I-SAPS) in collaboration with ILM Ideas.

I-SAPS executive director Dr Salman Humayun said data from district and constituency levels is useful for identifying actionable points for public representatives.

He highlighted the importance of doing research at the local level and informing MPAs about missing facilities at schools in their constituencies.

“However, there is also a need to go beyond traditional actors such as the education department and the NGOs and involve others such as communities,” he said.

Dr Humayun said in the next fiscal year there should be a focus on rebuilding dangerous school buildings.

“We understand that reforms are slow and unfortunately, the development sector is bound by project timelines. By working with the public sector, initiatives can be made sustainable,” he said.

PML-N MPA Syed Ameer Hyder Sherazi from Thatta lamented the abysmal state of facilities at schools in his constituency. “I vow to make all 300 schools in my constituency fully functional,” he said.

PML-N MPA Mohammad Islam Aslam, from Rahimyar Khan, said he used the data provided to him by I-SAPS regarding missing facilities at the schools in his constituency and managed to fulfill the requirements in 70 per cent of schools.

“I hope that in the next two years we will be able to improve conditions at all the schools,” he said.

Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party MPA Nasrullah Khan Zaray from Quetta also discussed the progress made in his constituency.

“The educational session in Quetta starts in March and this year we ensured that books were available by February. We also built 25 new schools and gave scholarships to 10,000 students,” he said.

The importance of learning outcomes was highlighted by Lubna Faisal, PML-N MPA from Lahore. “Infrastructure is important but quality of education cannot be ignored,” she said.

She discussed the progress made in Lahore since the declaration of an educational emergency in the province by the chief minister. “We will achieve our goal of 100 per cent enrollment in the next two years,” she said.

Another MPA from Lahore, PTI’s Dr Murad Rass criticised the callousness of the education department towards missing facilities at schools.

“In my constituency in Gulberg, where income levels are high, girls in public schools do not have chairs to sit on. I have been visiting the EDO’s office for two years crying myself hoarse over lack of facilities and they have failed only managed to provide a few broken chairs. This speaks volumes about the attitude of the education department,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2015

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