Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Brits Offer $1 Billion to Aid Schools in Pakistan

A new British aid package for Pakistan, announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in Islamabad, is worth $1,055 million over four years. The money will fund education for up to 4 million students, train 9,000 teachers, purchase 6 million new text books and build 8,000 schools by 2015, according to various media reports.

Announcing new aid, Cameron said, “I struggle to find a country that’s more in our interest to progress and succeed than Pakistan." “If Pakistan succeeds then we will have a good story ... if it fails we will have all the problems of migration and extremism, all the problems", he added.

With growth in the last decade, a number of countries like China, India and Pakistan have transitioned from low- to middle-income status under World Bank classifications. But China and India together still account for about half of the world's poor, and most of the illiterates, according to The Guardian. The focus of the OECD nations and the World Bank should be on helping all of the poor people regardless of whether they live in low-income or middle-income countries. Such help needs to be specifically targeted toward human development programs like education and healthcare.

Earlier this year, a Pakistani government commission on education found that public funding for education has been cut from 2.5% of GDP in 2005 to just 1.5% - less than the annual subsidy given to the PIA, the national airline that continues to sustain huge losses.

The commission reported that 25 million children in Pakistan do not attend school, a right guaranteed in the country's constitution, and three million children will never in their lives attend a lesson, according to the BBC.

The report added that while rich parents send their children to private schools and later abroad to college or university, a third of all Pakistanis have spent less than two years at school.

Among the key findings of the commission are the following:

* 30,000 school buildings are so neglected that they are dangerous
* 21,000 schools do not have a school building at all
* Only half of all women in Pakistan can read, in rural areas the figure drops to one third
* There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan which still manage to send more of their children to school
* Only 65% of schools have drinking water, 62% have latrines, 61% a boundary wall and 39% have electricity

The report concluded that Pakistan - in contrast to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh - has no chance of reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals for education by 2015.

Will the additional British aid bring new focus on education in Pakistan? Is it still possible for Pakistan to achieve the UN's Millennium Development Goals for education by 2015? I certainly hope so, but it will take a renewed national focus in both public and private sectors of the country.

Fortunately, there are a number of highly committed individuals and organizations like The Citizens Foundation (TCF) and the Human Development Foundation (HDF) which are very active in raising funds and building and operating schools to improve the situation in Pakistan. It is important that all of us who care for the future of Pakistan should generously help these and similar other organizations.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Must Fix Primary Education

Teach For Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Student Performance By Country and Race

India Shining and Bharat Drowning

South Asian IQs

Low Literacy Rates Threaten Pakistan's Future

Pakistan Education Emergency

Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness

Mobile Phones For Mass Literacy in Pakistan

Poor Quality of Higher Education in South Asia

Teaching Facts vs Reasoning


Mayraj said...

Who's going to monitor the money????

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "Who's going to monitor the money????"

That's a good question.

I just hope the Brits will insist on some level of accountability, and the media will help expose fraud and abuse.

Anonymous said...

What really develops countries is institutions not aid.

Aid should be confined to natural disasters and the like...

The focus in normal times should be institutional building and access to markets to help poor countries.

HOWEVER the above is assuming the West's intentions are always altruistic which they certainly aren't.

There was recently a v good article in India's economic times castigating Bill gates and he like.

For instance the Bill &MEllinda foundations keep giving contracts for vaccines to GSK and the like whose 'reduced prices' are still 10 times more than indian prices of indian manufacturers.When the program is terminated the entire delivery/training/post monitoring etc is built around GSK etc vaccines and int Indian govt is saddled with 10 times the vaccine budget....

Bill Gates is also a major shareholder in big pharma and companies like Monsanto for whom his charity creates beachheads via the bill and melinda gates foundation.

He also has a huge PR budget to portray himself as a guardian angel of the poor and desparate instead of a rapacious monopolistic capitalist who he always was and still his.

This is but one example....

Do read the economic times article...brilliant stuff best article in the indian press for a long while and surprisingly well researched...

Anonymous said...

a good portion of the aid given by Britain goes to the aid mafia of consultants and social workers who go around pajeros in impoverished countries like Afghanistan bought with money acquired by showing tear jerking photos of starving,maimed children...

Imran said...

I wish this money would go to NGO’s like TCF, HDF etc who can really make a difference. The current government cant differentiate between 1 & 2, let alone putting an education strategy together...

Mayraj said...

The other issue is the British have shown zero capability of educating their poor own people (same holds true of US). It is good to get their money;but, the job of figuring out how to improve the education of the poor shouldn't rely on their expertise!

Pakistan needs guidance from govts that have done well with ltd funds.

Also we need to build economy so the educated do not go to UK to provide cheap foreign labor and stay in Pakistan instead!

Asif said...

Great stuff Riaz Sb!

It shows PK's priorities vs UK's priorities.

Funding like this will address education - that's wonderful in any case, but we need a scalable, self persistent solution and visionary leadership to make us successful long term

Riaz Haq said...


It's more than screwed up priorities; it's extremely poor governance.

If they just fix the problems of corruption and incompetence at the PIA, the subsidy given to the airline can be allocated to education and double the education budget.

And just about every state-owned company, from steel mill to railways, is losing tons of money money and imposing a huge burden on taxpayers.

Remember, when Musharraf and Aziz tried to privatize the steel mill to cut the drain on the treasury, the politicians and the judges all screamed "corruption" and prevented it. Now the steel mill itself is hemorrhaging a lot more of taxpayer rupees than it was under Musharraf.

Anonymous said...

Remember, when Musharraf and Aziz tried to privatize the steel mill to cut the drain on the treasury, the politicians and the judges all screamed "corruption" and prevented it. Now the steel mill itself is hemorrhaging a lot more of taxpayer rupees than it was under Musharraf.

A golden rule about privatization is you should never sell in a situation when you are desparate for cash.It is almost sure to get you a pittance in return...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "A golden rule about privatization is you should never sell in a situation when you are desparate for cash."

Is it not better to cut your losses and focus on the future of the nation by investing in education?

BTW, the steel mill was in much better shape, and losing less under Mush than it is now. The situation has has gone from bad to worse!

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from The Guardian Op Ed on Cameron's warning to Pakistan to raise tax revenues:

Corruption, tax dodging by rich individuals and domestic companies, and tax dodging by multinational businesses all result in a massive flow of "illicit capital" out of developing countries that exceeds the aid they receive from rich nations. Three policy solutions are needed to help reverse this trend and truly fulfil the spirit of Cameron's remarks.

First, revenue officials in developing countries need to be able to follow the money that their rich elites have stashed in tax havens. At present, countries have to conclude individual treaties with each country from which they want this kind of information, and can only do so if that country is willing. This is cumbersome and cannot serve the interests of low-income countries. The UK is one of over a dozen countries that recently ratified a multilateral convention that could provide the solution – but only if developing countries are supported to join, and if tax havens are compelled to participate. The G20 summit in France in November is the opportunity to make this happen.

Second, anti-corruption and tax justice campaigners – and indeed some revenue officials – want multinational companies to break down their financial reports on a country-by-country basis. This proposal is being considered right now by the European commission, and was raised by the chancellor, George Osborne, at a recent G20 summit.

But the devil will be in the detail. If companies have to declare tax payments by country, it will be much harder for corrupt officials to spirit the money away. But if other information such as profits and sales is also included in the breakdown, we could scrutinise the tax payments themselves, holding companies and governments to account for the tax dodging that multinational companies can get away with.

Third and finally, we need the global network of anti-tax avoidance laws to be fit for purpose. It's unfortunate that changes to the UK's "controlled foreign companies" rules in last month's budget will open the floodgates to tax avoidance by British companies overseas. This could cost developing countries £4bn in revenues, effectively wiping out the value of half the British aid budget. At the same time, developing countries keen to crack down on such avoidance are being forced to adopt international "transfer pricing" rules that make them leak like sieves.

It's within the power of the British government to equip developing countries like Pakistan with the information, the rules and the enforcement capacity they need to raise much more tax revenue.

Anonymous said...

Is it not better to cut your losses and focus on the future of the nation by investing in education?

If you sell a state organization today for x when in 5 year time the capital stock itself(prime land buildings licenses etc will be worth 2-3 x why not wait?

Privatization is not a magic mantra
British rail privatization was a disaster as were several ill thought out Indian privatizations in the 1990s.
Not to mention the disastrous 'shock therapy' privatizations in yeltsin's Russia.

The last thing Pakistan now needs is for the feudals(who have most of the capital) to mutate into Russian oligarch style robber barrons.

The privatizations have been the most successful are those that are well thought out and done in a graduated fashion...

Mohammad Irfan said...

Riaz, it's time to update those illiteracy graphs. This year's Indian census results have come and Indian literacy rate has risen to 75% with youth literacy rate well above the international average.

Riaz Haq said...

Irfan: "Riaz, it's time to update those illiteracy graphs."

The UNESCO illiteracy graph from "Education For All" report that I have used shows proportions of illiterate adults in the most illiterate nations of the world including India followed by China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

I don't believe the relative position of India as the nation with the world's largest population of illiterate adults has changed since last year.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone knows how many British based companies will be given mining and exploration licenses in Pakistan.
What is in it for Britain, why they are giving money while their own masses are going through tough times?

Sunil said...

Dear Riaz,

I have one question for you is blog only to show improvement of pakistan & to shoe India in bad light?
there is no post about Anna Hazare's action against corruption in India.
I think that would also inspire some movement in Pakistan.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

Announcing new aid, Cameron said, ............ “If Pakistan succeeds then we will have a good story ... if it fails we will have all the problems of migration and extremism, all the problems", he added."

riaz, you could be proud that these are the best words, a foreign head of state could make when he comes to your country!!!

Riaz Haq said...

Zen:"riaz, you could be proud that these are the best words, a foreign head of state could make when he comes to your country!!!"

Welcome back after a long pause!

As someone said, "Swallow your pride occasionally, it's non-fattening! "

I have no shame in swallowing my pride or "ghairat" if it helps educate Pakistan's poor kids who are being ignored by corrupt and incompetent rulers.

It's a small price to pay for a better future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Haq Sb.,

Have you checked out http://tac.edu.pk i think an article on TAC would be nice post for your web site.


Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "The other issue is the British have shown zero capability of educating their poor own people (same holds true of US). It is good to get their money;but, the job of figuring out how to improve the education of the poor shouldn't rely on their expertise!"

1. I think the British aid, and aid from other nations, is needed to support Pakistan's badly neglected public education sector.

2. With a PISA reading score of 500, US kids outperformed those in Germany( 497), France (496) and UK (494).

3. Based on PISA reading scores as analyzed by Steve Sailer, US Asians (score 541) are just below Shanghai students (556), US whites (525) outperform all of their peers in Europe except the Finns, and US Hispanics (466) and US Blacks (441) significantly outperform kids in dozens of countries spread across Asia, Latin America and Middle East.

For example, US Hispanics did better than Turks, Russians, Serbians, and all of Latin America.

In fact US Hispanics outperformed all BRIC nations with the exception of China.

And US Blacks did better than Bulgaria, Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, Jordan, Indonesia, Argentina, etc.


4. The only data available for India is 2003 TIMMS on which they ranked 46 on a list of 51 countries. Their score was 392 versus avg of 467. They performed very poorly. It was contained in a report titled "India Shining and Bharat Drowning".

I think Pakistan kids would probably also perform poorly on PISA and TIMMS if it was administered there.



Anonymous said...

Indian PISA scores for Tamil Nadu and Uttaranchal will be out this year.

Next year the whole country takes the test.

National pride aside(I won't be surprised if overall India shows up near the bottom.)these surveys give you a snapshot and point out glaring defficiency.

India's overall problems are:

1.Low urbanization

You just won't find people with college degree willing to teach in villages.

2.Poor nutrition

3.Child labour

4.Illiterate parents

Its actually pretty sad India's overall literacy rate is 75% HOWEVER only 35% of kids finish even class X compared to 80% in China.

Riaz Haq said...

The $20m grant by USAID for Pakistani version of Sesame Street is part of $1.5 billion a year Kerry-Lugar Bill passed last year. Most of the $1.5 billion has not been disbursed, according to a piece in Foreign Policy Magazine:

U.S. economic aid to Pakistan, which totals over $1.5 billion per year, is a key part of the Obama administration's strategy to strengthen the U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership. However, most of the aid that was allocated for last year is still in U.S. government coffers.

Only $179.5 million out of $1.51 billion in U.S. civilian aid to Pakistan was actually disbursed in fiscal 2010, the Government Accountability Office stated in a report released last week. Almost all of that money was distributed as part of the Kerry-Lugar aid package passed last year.

$75 million of those funds were transferred to bolster the Benazir Income Support Program, a social development program run by the Pakistani government. Another $45 million was given to the Higher Education Commission to support "centers of excellence" at Pakistani universities; $19.5 million went to support Pakistan's Fulbright Scholarship program; $23.3 million went to flood relief; $1.2 billion remains unspent.

None of the funds were spent to construct the kind of water, energy, and food infrastructure that former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Richard Holbrooke advocated for diligently when he was the lead administration official in charge of managing the money. Moreover, according to the report, the Obama administration hasn't yet set up the mechanisms to make sure the money isn't misspent.
"While the facts of the GAO report are accurate, it doesn't reflect the big picture nor adequately represent what we've achieved with civilian assistance over the last year," said Jessica Simon, a spokesperson for the SRAP office. "As the FY 2010 funding was appropriated in April 2010, it is hardly surprising that only a portion of the funding was disbursed by the end of the year."

Simon said that in total, the U.S. government has disbursed $878 million of Pakistan-specific assistance since October 2009, which includes over $514 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to the devastating July 2010 floods.

The floods also slowed the progress of the Kerry-Lugar program, Sen. John Kerry's spokesman Frederick Jones told The Cable.

"The floods last summer changed the Pakistani landscape, literally and figuratively, and required us to take a step back and reexamine all of our plans," Jones said. "Bureaucracies move slowly and redirecting aid at this level requires time and some patience. It is difficult to allocate billions of dollars in a responsible way without proper vetting, which takes time."

Experts note that the disparity between U.S. promises to Pakistan and funds delivered is a constant irritant in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

"There are always complaints and in terms of the delays there are pretty valid reasons on both sides," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council. He said that Congress's requirement that the money be tracked and accounted for is a source of contention.

"For a long time the U.S. didn't ask any questions about the money. And so it became a bit of a shock," he said.

The GAO has long called for better oversight of the funds, especially in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This lack of accountability is what spurred Congress to mandate better oversight of the Kerry-Lugar money, including provisions that require reporting on the Pakistani military's level of assistance to the United States.


Riaz Haq said...

Is India too wealthy for British aid? asks the BBC:

Bihar children being fed under a government scheme More than a million children in Bihar suffer from severe malnutrition
Continue reading the main story
Related Stories

* How UK overseas aid will be spent
* 'More poor' in India than Africa
* Ignoring India's 'republic of hunger'

Britain's decision to give £280m ($457m) in annual aid to India for the next four years has prompted questions in the UK about whether India needs the aid these days. The BBC's Geeta Pandey travels to the northern state of Bihar to see where a sizeable chunk of the British money will be spent.

About two dozen children squat in a narrow lane separating mud and brick homes in Madhaopur village.

It's a hot sunny afternoon and the children sit facing each other, hugging the wall where a thin sliver of shade keeps them out of direct sunshine.

A woman puts steel plates in front of each child, another ladles out khichdi - a rice and lentil dish - onto each plate.

Within minutes, the chattering ceases and the children begin to eat hungrily, scooping out khichdi with their hands and putting it in their mouths.

Ideally, the children should be served inside the Anganwadi (government sponsored child development) centre, but the pokey, window-less room that passes for the centre is too small to accommodate them all.

The building provides pre-school education to children between three and six years and gives them one cooked meal a day to supplement their nutritional needs.

"Nearly 50% children here are malnourished," says Geeta Verma, who is part of the technical assistance team of DfiD (Department for International Development).
A baby being vaccinated in Bihar DfiD supports vaccination programmes in the villages of Bihar

"They are given a daily meal by the Anganwadi workers. It's a naturally fortified meal - for proteins we use lentils, for micronutrients, we use leafy vegetables," she explains.

Research has shown that the diet in Bihar leaves children with a 300-calorie deficit and this meal aims to bridge that gap.

"This meal provides each child with 300 calories and 10 grams of protein," Ms Verma says.

The team has helped prepare the menu and has been coaching the women in the important role nutrition plays in the physical and mental growth of their children.

In Madhaopur, DfiD is also supervising and assisting with immunisation of babies and has helped with a project to teach illiterate women.
'Too wealthy?'

Since being opened up in 1991, the Indian economy has grown rapidly. And at a time when most economies around the world are in recession, India's continues to grow at an enviable 9%. This has helped lift millions out of poverty.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
Sangeeta Kumari

Bluntly speaking we are struggling for existence, we are trying to perform our best in the midst of a crisis. We have very poor infrastructure.”

End Quote Sangeeta Kumari Bihar government official

This has led to some in the UK wondering if India is too wealthy to qualify for receiving aid. They say the £280m could be put to better use in Britain where the economy is ailing and many services are being cut back.

Critics also point out that India has 69 dollar billionaires; it has its own space programme; plans to send a man to the Moon; spends billions of dollars annually on defence; and even has its own overseas aid programme.

But India has its areas of darkness too - according to World Bank estimates, 456 million live on less than $1.25 a day; tens of millions of children suffer from acute malnutrition; millions of Indians are illiterate; hundreds of thousands continue to die of totally preventable causes; and eight million children remain out of school.....

Anonymous said...

British Aid has NEVER helped any country to get out of poverty.

We don't want it!Its mostly for creating beachheads for british pharma company as these 'aid' agencies routinely avoid much much cheaper indian pharma cos.

Incidentally Indian govt gets zero direct aid from any country these aid programs are NOT government to government.

Aid is NOT the altruistic sacrifice that the above article is portraying it to be but gives british companies X 3-4 times return on investment.
That and not humanitarism is the reason britain is not cutting aid...

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "We don't want it!"

It depends on who "we" is. I know the urban middle class well-fed Indians don't want it, but India's neglected poor and hungry do...some of who are mentioned by BBC's Indian reporter Geeta Pande.

If the British is cut, it'll cause tremendous suffering for many members of the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates who call India home.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Aid should be confined to natural disasters and the like..."

With 7000 Indians dying of hunger everyday according to bhookh.com, it is a serious emergency in India that calls for international community to act for humanitarian reasons.

Anonymous said...

If the British is cut, it'll cause tremendous suffering for many members of the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates who call India home.

Oh come on $500 million is the UK aid budget for India after expenses i.e salaries for aid workewrs,consultants etc etc you have about $300 million.

A large part of that is spent on buying unnecessarily expensive procurement(like medicines at 20X the price from GSK vis a vis Indian generic pharma compnies)

So the net real aid is only about $100 million.I am sorry but somehow I don't see that amounting to much or causing tremendous hardships one way or another.

I think Pakistan should kick its aid dependent habit sooner rather than later..

Aid DOES NOT help long term poverty alliviation.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Aid DOES NOT help long term poverty alliviation."

It depends on what aid is used for.

US Aid to India in 1960s for Green Revolution saved hundreds of millions of lives in India and other developing nations.

And western aid is still saving millions of lives in India through vaccinations, feedings, toilet construction, pre-school and primary education etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an assessment of Pakistan's education crisis by Rebecca Winthrop of Brookings Inst:

For the millions of people who read and were inspired by Greg Mortenson’s books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, Sunday’s revelations by CBS News’ 60 Minutes that much of his story was at best vastly exaggerated and at worst fabricated, came as deep disappointment. ......

As I travel around Pakistan this week and look at education issues across the country, including in the Federally Administered Northern Areas where Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea was set, I am struck by the bitter-sweet effect of these revelations. On the one hand, Mortenson’s book hid one of the country’s biggest educational success stories and promulgated a model of education assistance that has been proven time and again to be ineffective. On the other hand, his story captured the hearts of millions, bringing needed attention to the very real educational needs of Pakistan’s children and articulating the very important role good quality education can play in reducing conflict risk.
Contrary to the Three Cups of Tea portrayal of Gilgit-Bultistan as a place with little educational opportunity, it is one of the regions in Pakistan that has demonstrated true educational transformation over the last 50 years. In 1946, just prior to partition from India, there were an estimated six primary schools and one middle school for the entire region. Today there are over 1,800 primary, 500 middle, 420 high schools, and almost 40 higher education institutions. Girls are often noted to be outperforming boys and staying in school longer. It is true that community leadership and civil society organizations have played a major role in this transformation; it just was not Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute. When I asked the governor of Gilgit-Bultistan, Pir Syed Karam Ali Shah, how this education transformation came about, he was quick to point to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a network of private, international, nondenominational development organizations, an assertion with which other education experts concur. Led by His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the concerted focus on improving education, and especially girls’ education, started in 1946 and has continued, led by community members, for decades. Initially starting in the Ismaili communities in Gilgit-Bultistan, the work spread quickly to other non-Ismaili communities in the region, when the clear economic and health benefits of educating girls were seen by neighboring communities. Many civil society organizations, government interventions and public-private partnerships have developed over time, helping to increase levels of human capital and capacity through heavy investment in education, particularly of girls. According to Mehnaz Aziz, member of the national Pakistan Education Task Force, if the rest of Pakistan could only follow in the footsteps of the people of Gilgit-Bultistan, the status of education in Pakistan would be greatly improved.

... Increasing access to quality education is likely to reduce Pakistan’s risk of conflict as cross-country estimates show that increasing educational attainment is strongly correlated with conflict risk reduction. Last month, a national campaign – Education Emergency Pakistan 2011 – was launched to spur country-wide dialogue on the need to prioritize educational investment and progress.
It is unfortunate that the 60 Minutes expose has called into question the accuracy of Greg Mortenson’s books. Without defending Mortenson or whether the facts in his memoirs are accurate, I can say truthfully that there is indeed a very serious education crisis in Pakistan. The international community should not lose sight of this and the real needs of the Pakistani children and youth seeking to improve their lives.

Riaz Haq said...

The European Union has signed an agreement to provide 225 million euros for development projects in Pakistan, according to The News:

The agreement was signed by the Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel and European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs at the finance ministry.

The money will be spent from 2011 to 2013 on developing programmes for rural and natural resource, education and human resource, governance and trade development.

Under the arrangement, the EU has committed an annual grant of 75 million euros. Over the three-year period, 90 million euros will be spent on rural development and natural resources management, 70 million euros on education and human resource development, 50 million euros on governance and 15 million euros on trade development.

Briefing newsmen about the meeting, Shaikh appreciated the EU and Germany for their support to economic development in Pakistan.

The minister discussed the current economic situation and measures taken by the government for stabilising and increasing revenue through tax reforms.

The minister said that despite narrow fiscal space, Pakistan has not compromised on social and poverty-related spending and is pursuing a strategy to promote growth.

“As a result of the initiatives to stabilise economy, indicators have shown improvement and the economy is able enough to withstand challenges,” he added.

The minister thanked Germany for supporting Pakistan’s efforts to get access to the EU markets.

The visiting dignitaries appreciated Pakistan’s commitment for sustaining the ongoing economic reforms programme and reaffirmed their support to Pakistan in this regard.

They expressed hope that Pakistan would continue with the reform process.

Niebel said that under the recently concluded bilateral negotiations, Germany had committed additional 78 million euros for education, energy, health and governance besides assuring 12 million euros for the Multi Donor Trust Fund.

Out of the 78 million euros committed by Germany, 48.5 million euros will be spent on energy, 13 million euros on health, 9 million euros on governance, one million euros on education and 6.5 million euros outside these priority areas.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on the airing of the first episode of Sim Sim Humara in Pakistan:

The first episode of the Pakistan Children Television’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara”, an educational and capacity-building TV series for children, will be aired on Dec 10 at national TV.

The TV series will be a high-quality early education resource for a large number of children who lack access to formal education opportunities.

“Sim Sim Hamara” is the Pakistani adaptation of the engaging programme “Sesame Street”, created by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, New York, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The theatre group will create a total of 130 episodes of the “Sim Sim Hamra” broadcast on PTV Home.

Seventy-eight of these episodes will be produced in Urdu and 52 in national languages. The first episode will be aired at 5:30pm on Dec 10 and the repeat telecast will be at 9:30am next day. The moving spirit behind the project, Faizan Pirzada told Dawn that “along with language and numeracy skills, this new educational show will promote basic life skills, healthy habits, mutual respect and love for learning. The show’s locally-developed puppet stars include Rani, a six-year old school girl with a keen interest in natural sciences and a love of reading, Munna, a five-year old boy with big dreams and a flair for mathematics and numbers, Baily, a fluffy, hardworking donkey who aspires to be a pop star, Baji, a colourful, spirited woman with a passion for food, family, fun and tradition, and Haseen-o-Jameel, a crocodile who has a wonderful way with words, rhymes and songs.”

Throwing light on the background of the project, one of the heads of the PC TV, Faizan Pirzada said Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, in collaboration with Sesame Workshop, held a national content seminar and four provincial workshops to gather educational advisers from various fields to provide direction for the educational framework for the Pakistan Children’s Television project.

He said the participants included representatives from both regional and federal government entities, academicians, performing artists, civil society members working with children, representatives from Sesame Workshop, USAID and the federal education secretary.

He said there’s a need to impress upon children and families the fact that learning happens in both formal and non-formal environments. PC television is using authentic examples from the real world, such as observing a family member count change at the grocery store, weighing produce on scales at the vegetable market, reading prayers from the Holy Quran and other holy texts, and measuring ingredients for ‘roti’ as a basis for storylines and materials that promote a lifelong love of learning.


Javeria Abbasi said...

Sir how do you consider the foreign aid, how is it helpful in making national policy & planning? & especially in the educational planning of our country?

Riaz Haq said...

Javeria: "Sir how do you consider the foreign aid, how is it helpful in making national policy & planning? & especially in the educational planning of our country? "

Foreign aid is not a bad thing per se; it depends on how it's used.

In Pakistan, US aid has helped build dams (Mangla, Tarbela, etc), set up schools (PIDE, IBA, LUMS, HEC reforms etc.), educate children (Sim Sim Hamara), kept people from starving ( Green Revolution in 1960s), improved health (vaccination programs) etc etc.

As long as Pakistanis are not willing to take responsibility for their own people by paying taxes, Pakistan will need and be dependent on foreign aid.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excepts of an Op Ed by Andrew Michell, British secretary of DFID, published in The News:

Over the last year, the UK has worked closely with Pakistan to deliver strong results, including supporting nearly half a million children in school; providing practical job training to more than 1,100 poor people in Punjab; providing microfinance loans to more than one hundred thousand people across Pakistan so they can start small businesses and lift their families out of poverty; and helping millions of people affected by the floods in 2010 and 2011.

Education is the single most important factor that can transform Pakistan’s future. With a population that is expected to increase by 50 per cent in less than forty years, it is worrying that half the country’s adults can’t read or write, and that more than a third of primary school aged children are not in school. That’s why the UK is committed to working in partnership with Pakistan to tackle its education emergency.

If educated, healthy and working, this burgeoning youth population will provide a demographic boost to drive Pakistan’s economic growth and unlock Pakistan’s potential on the global stage.

That’s why education is the UK’s top priority and why over the next four years, the UK will work in partnership with Pakistan to:

* support four million children in school;

* recruit and train 90,000 new teachers;

* provide more than six million text book sets; and

* construct or rebuild more than 43,000 classrooms.

Every full year of extra schooling across the population increases economic growth by up to one percentage point, as more people with better reading, writing, and maths skills enter the workforce.

The UK government is also working with Pakistan to empower and protect women and girls, to end violence against them and to help harness their talent and productivity. I welcome the legislation recently passed by Pakistan’s parliament that bans domestic violence, and congratulate Pakistan on its first Oscar for an outstanding film which throws the international spotlight on the horrific crime of acid attacks on women.

Other priorities for the UK include working with Pakistan to prevent 3,600 mothers dying in childbirth; enabling 500,000 couples to choose when and how many children they have; providing practical job training (such as car mechanics, cooks, weavers, carpenters, etc) to tens of thousands of people living in poverty; and enable millions of people, half of them women, to access financial services such as microfinance loans so they can earn more money and lift their families out of poverty.

The UK’s aid to Pakistan could potentially more than double, to become the UK’s largest recipient of aid. However this increase in UK aid is dependent on securing value for money and results, and linked to the Government of Pakistan’s own progress on reform at both the federal and provincial levels. This includes taking steps to build a more dynamic economy, strengthen the country’s tax base, and tackle corruption.


Riaz Haq said...

From Dawn:

KARACHI: The British High Commissioner for Pakistan, Adam Thomson, said that transformation of the education sector is essential to safeguard Pakistan’s future.

He was addressing members of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP) at a local hotel on Thursday.

The High Commissioner maintained that although the current situation in education sector seems dismal, there has been some progress. However, this progress is not fast enough.

He pointed out that the global average primary school enrollment is 87 per cent but that of Pakistan is 56 per cent.

Seventeen million primary school age children, equivalent to the entire population of Karachi, are out of school in Pakistan, Adam Thomson added.

He pointed out that UK aid from the Department for International Development will help support four million children into school, train 90,000 teachers, fund six million textbook sets and rebuild schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa destroyed by militants or floods.

The High Commissioner said that the UK is already working with Pakistan to assist in this necessary transformation in Pakistan’s education.

He stated that the UK has more to offer Pakistan on education than any other country in the world.

Adam Thomson cited founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s strong personal conviction that ‘education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan’.

Arguing that an education transformation is possible, he cited the example of a province in Brazil where the literacy rate among eight year olds jumped from 49 per cent to 73 per cent just three years after a reform programme was launched.

Adam Thomson said Pakistan could expect to start seeing the results within two years.

Highlighting the strong links between Pakistan and the UK on education, he said that the UK and Pakistan are linked by history, language and educational testing. More Pakistanis still take English exams than any other nationality outside a formal government education sector.

‘We are connected, joined at the hip. We cannot flourish if you do not flourish. You cannot flourish if your population is uneducated’.

The UK will support four million children in school and is set to provide 650 million pounds, equivalent to nearly Rs100 billion, over four years for primary and secondary education in Pakistan.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on a conference on technical & vocational training (TVET)as published in The Nation:

For the first time in Pakistan, the British Council on Monday held an International Conference on Employer Engagement and Entrepreneurship for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector for South Asia.

Held under the Skills for Employability programme, the conference focused on the benefits of employers’ engagement in the curriculum development and policy-making process in the TVET sector and how it can be encouraged, says a press release issued here.

The participants agreed that the engagement will result in enabling policy makers to develop demand-driven curriculum that will not only produce workforce with industry-need expertise and knowledge but will also pave ways to promote entrepreneurship amongst the young TVET graduates.

TVET experts from Pakistan, United Kingdom, Bangladesh and Nepal participated in the conference besides principals, teachers and students of TVET colleges from across Pakistan.

Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Federal Minister for Professional and Technical Training, was the chief guest at the conference. In his speech, he highlighted the role of TVET education for the development of a country’s economy particularly for a country like Pakistan.

There was an overall consensus in amongst the participants of the conference that there is always a consistent demand of skilled workforce from the developing world to the developed countries as well as within their own countries. But there was also a general agreement on the challenges that countries like Pakistan face to meet those demands. One of the major challenges that were highlighted in the conference was how to equip our manpower with the expertise and skills that are in demand in the global market.
Adam Thompson, the British High Commissioner in Pakistan was the guest of honour at the event and he talked about how TVET education in the UK is contributing to the economy by producing demand-driven workforce.

The conference also had an impressive exhibition setup by enterprising young students from the TVET colleges across Pakistan. There were separate panel discussions on Employer Engagement and Entrepreneurship, where experts from different countries discussed the importance of these two elements in TVET sector followed by a Q & A session by an enthusiastic audience.

The findings of the two sessions on Employer Engagement and Entrepreurship were shared with the participants in the concluding session of the Conference.

Salman Shehzad, Regional Manager for Skills for Employability programme concluded the Conference with his closing remarks. Salman said, “Having the treasure of approx. 65% youth population in Pakistan; TVET reforms can be instrumental in creating dynamic opportunities for young people which would certainly support the government’s agenda of engaging youth in skill development activities.”


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on UNICEF's Every Child in School campaign:

Around 20 million children in Pakistan, including an estimated 7.3 million of primary school age, are not in school, said a statement issued by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Friday.

“Investing in children and their education is vital due to the positive impacts it has on so many socio-economic dimensions. It is therefore imperative that all children in Pakistan, both boys and girls, have the opportunity to attend and complete their schooling,” the statement said.

About the efforts of the fund for promoting education for children across the country, the statement said, “UNICEF is supporting the nationwide ‘Every Child in School’ campaign, which encourages parents and communities to ensure that all primary school-age children are enrolled for the new school year. A special focus is being placed on enrolling girls, who represent 57 percent of primary school-age children who are not attending school. Girls from poor families in rural areas, for example, receive just over one year of education, on average.”

“The disparities in educational opportunities are influenced by multiple factors, like wealth, gender, ethnicity, geographic location, early learning opportunities, access and quality of learning – and it is therefore critical that all who can positively influence children’s learning opportunities should come forward to ensure that this school-year is more successful than ever,” said UNICEF Pakistan Representative Dan Rohrmann.

“We must ensure that all children are in school. Free and quality education for all children, especially the most vulnerable, is essential to Pakistan’s economic and social development. An investment in children is an investment in Pakistan’s future,” Rohrmann said, adding, “The realisation of Pakistan’s vision for social and economic development depends on success of its education system.”

The right of a child to receive education is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution of Pakistan provides an added opportunity to realise this right, as Article 25A requires the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16, as determined by the law.



Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on USAID project on education in Pakistan:

Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Dr Rajiv Shah and Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq launched the USAID-funded ‘National Reading Programme’ at Government Girls Primary/Secondary School, Sultanabad.

The programme consists of three projects - two national and one focused on Sindh - that will help train teachers, improve reading skills and numeracy, and mobilise communities to support school management. It will also increase enrollment of students and ensure student retention, especially of girls.

The programme aims at improving literacy and numeracy for nearly seven million children, provide training to over 90,000 teachers in teaching and assessment, and support the development of 3.2 million new readers–including 700,000 children in Sindh. USAID will be supporting the school with a reading programme under the Sindh Basic Education Programme (SBEP). USAID SBEP was started in 2011 and will span until 2016, with a budget of $ 155 million. “This is good because it supplements your education budget, a budget that is woefully under-funded. But more importantly, it establishes the need for accountability in school administration and management. We are both now accountable to citizens who look to us to be stewards of these resources.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on increased British aid for education in Pakistan:

Under the new UK Operational Plan for Pakistan (2011-2015), almost 1.4 billion pounds have been allocated for Pakistan, primarily in the education sector.
According to sources, the plan will make Pakistan the largest recipient of the UK development assistance in the world. UK believes that Pakistan’s education system is in crisis, and the country has a booming youth population. By 2032, the number of young people in Pakistan will be larger than the entire UK population. That’s why education is one of the UK’s priorities in Pakistan from 2011 to 2015, besides peace and stability in conflict-hit areas of in the country. Between 2011 and 2015, the UK will support four million children in school and construct more than 20,000 classrooms.
The UK is Pakistan’s second largest trading partner in Europe after Germany and an important source of foreign investment and remittances. Bilateral trade with the country was 1.77 billion pounds last year. Importantly, the two sides have agreed to a Trade and Investment Roadmap to not only increase the bilateral trade to 2.5 billion pounds by 2015 but also enhance investment opportunities. There are over 100 British companies in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s relations with the UK have become stronger and more meaningful since signing of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) on April 5 last year. The UK has also been very supportive of Pakistan’s desire for inclusion in GSP+ in 2014.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's Guardian on effectiveness of British aid for Pak education and health:

..A report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), assistance....

The watchdog found that the education programme had improved the quality of learning, and had shown promising early results. However, a programme for maternal and newborn health showed "significant shortcomings", and there were concerns that the humanitarian projects had done little to prepare Pakistan for future disasters.

Overall, ICAI, which scrutinises UK aid, rated the country programme green/amber in its traffic light ratings system, which means it performed relatively well and provided value for money, but needed improvements.

Pakistan is set to become the largest recipient of UK bilateral aid. The Department for International Development (DfID) views the country as strategically important and announced an increase in aid after its bilateral aid review last year. UK aid has already trebled from £87m to £267m between 2007-08 and 2011-12, and is expected to reach £446m by 2014-15.

A chunk of the money will be spent on education, including on an ambitious programme in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and another in Punjab, aimed at getting more children into school and delivering a quality education. The department's health and nutrition programmes are expected to total around £160m. The report said DfID "has no track record of delivering programmes on this scale".

The team will be delivering these programmes in a difficult environment. Pakistan ranks low on Transparency International's corruption perceptions index – coming 134th out of 182 countries – and has weak auditing and budgeting procedures. The country has experienced natural and manmade disasters over recent years, including conflict in the Swat valley that displaced around 3 million people, and severe flooding in 2010 and 2011 that affected millions of people and disrupted development programmes. The country is also devolving federal power to the provinces. "This suggests that scaling up of the country programme needs to be approached cautiously and with a very active risk management stance," said the report.

The report welcomed DfID's cash transfer scheme in areas hit by flooding, but "while its humanitarian projects are well conceived, DfID has only limited engagement at present in building capacity for disaster risk reduction or management, to increase resilience to future disasters", despite recommendations in 2008 that more needed to be done in this area.

The design of the health programme, which trained community midwives in rural areas to support women who are not able to give birth in a health centre, was problematic, as it was competing with an existing network of trained community health workers created under another national health programme. Devolution resulted in the abolition of DfID's partner in the programme, the national Ministry of Health, which meant ownership of the project was unclear. The health programme is now being redesigned.

ICAI recommended that DfID encourages more private-sector involvement in delivering health and education services, considers making resilience to natural disasters at household and community level a core part of its programme, and implements agreed standards and procedures to ensure transparency and accountability in budgeting.

"Overall, we found that the DfID Pakistan programme is dynamic and innovative, with a good range of impressive initiatives," said Graham Ward, the ICAI chief commissioner. "DfID has no track record, however, of delivering programmes in Pakistan on the scale that is now contemplated. Delivering aid there also involves considerable challenges, so we believe that the planned programme scale-up needs to be approached carefully."..


Hopewins said...

RH: "And western aid is still saving millions of lives in India through vaccinations, feedings, toilet construction, pre-school and primary education etc"

Dr. Haq,

This is what the British media always crow about, but I find it very hard to believe.

There was a recent pronouncement by a newspaper in England that British Aid to India is "lifting hundreds of millions of Indians out of poverty". This smacks of exaggerated self-promotion to the point of senseless hyperbole.

Here is why: British Aid to India is about 400 Million$ per year. Assuming a population of 1 billion plus, that translates to 40-cents per person per year.

How much poverty alleviation and socioeconomic upliftment do you think 40-cents per person per year can possibly achieve?

To put this 400 Million$ into perspective, India's own internal tax-base spending on "social" programs (family planning, health, education, fuel, food, fertilizers etcetera) is around 36% of their government budget. This amounts to 0.36 X 275 = 100 Billion$ per year.

So I just don't see this "millions of lives saved" business happening with the meager amounts of foreign aid they receive on a per capita basis.

An additional thing to consider in terms of scale-analysis is the Net Aid received (all sources or countries) as a PERCENTAGE of government internal or domestic budgetary resources:
Nepal: 34.6%
Bangladesh: 12.1%
Pakistan: 10.2%
Sri-Lanka: 9.3%
India: 1.1%

I can imagine aid saving a lot of lives in Nepal at 35% dependency. I could also imagine lives being saved in our country at 10% dependency. But at 1.1% dependency, it is hard to imagine aid "transforming the lives of millions" in India. It might help generate some self-serving photo-ops and feel-good slogans for the busy-body Western do-gooder; but beyond that, I see no significance to this whole charade of "doing good with our aid" nonsense that makes the media-rounds in England.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "What are your thoughts on all this?"

India has the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates...more than even sub-Saharan Africa.

India has large pockets of very deep poverty in states like MP, Bihar, Jharkand, UP where millions die of hunger.

Indian govt would not fill the gap after the Brits leave.

Here's an excerpt from a post by Cybergandhi:

Due to the fake ‘India Shining’ propaganda launched by Hindutva idiots, foreign donors are reluctant to help the poor people in this country. According to figures provided by Britain’s aid agency, the total aid to India, from all sources, is only $1.50 a head, compared with an average of $17 per head for low-income countries. [Financial Times]


Hopewins said...

Here is a summary of the news (partially covered in your previous blog articles):

(1) The English will build schools in Pakistan
(2) The Americans will build irrigation canals in Pakistan
(3) The Germans will build water-supply stations in Pakistan
(4) The Danes will build health clinics in Pakistan
(5) The Chinese will build mining industry in Pakistan
(6) The Japanese will build power plants in Pakistan
(7) The Malaysians will build affordable housing in Pakistan.
(8) The Turks will build hydroelectric dams in Pakistan
(9) The Saudis will build Masajid & Madaris in Pakistan
(10) The Emiratis will build new cities in Pakistan
(11) The Kuwaitis will build new pipelines in Pakistan
(12) The Russian will build steel plants in Pakistan
(13) The Europeans will build food-processing industries in Pakistan.
(14) The Iranians will build new power-lines in Pakistan

Now this is all very well, but it BEGS the questions: WHAT will WE be doing? Or are we just going to sit back and expect the whole world to come and build our country for us?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on $400 m WB loan for Sind education:

The World Bank will give $400 million for the promotion and development of education in Sindh.

This was stated by country director of World Bank Pakistan Rachid Benmessaoud who called on Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah at the CM House on Monday along with a two-member delegation.

According to a statement issued by the Chief Minister House, Mr Benmessaoud further said that the WB would also help in development of irrigation and agriculture in the province.

The chief minister thanked the World Bank for assistance in various fields, especially in the education, health, agriculture and irrigation sectors.

He assured the WB officials that the provincial government was paying full attention to completion of development schemes on time and as per schedule.

The chief minister said problems in promotion and development of education would be resolved.

He said recruitment of teachers in the education department was being made strictly on merit.

The government had already recruited 16,000 teachers and that 19,000 more teachers would be hired on merit, he added.

He said that educational facilities were being extended in rural and far-flung areas of the province.

Mr Shah said that despite floods and rains over the past three years, there was headway in various fields.

The World Bank country chief appreciated the policy of merit for the recruitment of teachers.

He said the WB wanted to see headway in all sectors.

Sindh finance secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch and additional chief secretary of planning and development Arif Ahmed Khan were also present on the occasion


Hopewins said...

What's the point of the British building schools? They will all wind up like these anyway.....

Feb 28, 2013-

It would be better to take the money from the British and buy discounted arms from China in order to defend our eastern border against the nefarious designs and ill-intentions of our arch-rival India.

Riaz Haq said...

HWJ: "They will all wind up like these anyway...."


If they "all" wound up like this, the enrollment rate would not have been rising for many years in insurgency-hit FATA.

Here's a story of WFP program take-home rations for school girls in Bajaur agency in FATA:

Taking turns to lug a heavy can of edible oil, Mushtari and Sheema Gul, twin sisters aged nine, trip home happily from their school in Ghareebabad village in Pakistan’s troubled Bajaur Agency.

“Our kitchen is run on this oil,” explains Sheema. The shiny cans are distributed in her school under World Food Programme (WFP)’s ‘Back to school, stay in school’ project launched as people began streaming back to the Bajaur after the Pakistan army completed flushing out Taliban militants from the agency in April 2011.

“Last year, as people displaced by the fighting began returning, we entered into an agreement with the WFP to launch the project,” Akramullah Shah, an official of Bajaur Agency’s education department, tells IPS.

From 2007 to 2009, when the Taliban held sway over Bajaur Agency, about 100,000 people fled for safety to makeshift camps. “During that period Taliban militants destroyed 107 schools and disrupted education services, affecting about 80,000 students,” Shah said.

With much of Bajaur’s infrastructure reduced to rubble and the mainstay of agriculture ruined, the returning residents had little to look forward to and were reluctant to take on the added burden of sending their children to school.

Ghufran Gul, father of Mushtari and Sheema, said he would not have been able to send his daughters to school but for the WFP programme of distributing edible oil and fortified biscuits. “The oil is tasty and people like to use it for making rotis (unleavened bread),” he said.

“We are happy. We sisters get the biscuits while the oil is used by the entire family,” said the Gul twins who study in grade three of the government girls’ high school in Bajaur.
“As soon as the Pakistan army had defeated the militants, we started reconstruction of damaged schools and launched programmes to encourage the students to return, ” Bajaur Agency lawmaker Akhunzada Muhammad Chittan told IPS.

According to Chittan, enrolment at the government-run primary schools had increased from 102,922 in 2010 to 1,320,876 by the end of June this year and was to improve further.

“Apart from providing free books and food items, relief organisations other than the WFP have been pitching in with purchased uniforms, shoes and teaching kits that are powerful incentives for parents to send their children to schools,” he said.

According to the 2008 census the literacy rate among the FATA’s 3.2 million population is just 22 percent, well below the national average of 56 percent.

A brief setback to the food distribution programme occurred in December 2010 when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a WFP centre in the Bajaur, killing 45 people and injuring 80 others.

WFP spokesperson Amjad Jamal said the food assistance programme was due to run until the end of this year, but the U.N. agency has proposed that it should be allowed to continue until 2015.

“The main objectives of the programme are to protect children from hunger and motivate the parents to send their children back to schools to resume their education,” he said.

Except for the North Waziristan Agency, the WFP programme now covers the whole of the FATA and parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhthunkwa provinces.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece on Shehzad Roy's "Chal Parha" GeoTV series to improve education in Pakistan:

Last month, well-known Pakistani pop star, Shehzad Roy made an appearance at Harvard to talk about music, activism and his new documentary series, Chal Parha (Urdu for: Come, Teach), which highlights the extensive issues plaguing Pakistan’s education system.

Having visited over 200 schools across the country, in an interview with DAWN, Roy stated: “In each episode we highlight an issue from public schools, for example, corporal punishment, medium of instruction, population, textbooks, curriculum, teachers.”

He added, “I want to share the lessons that we have learnt; both good and ugly. We want people to know the obstacles standing in the way of improving the structure of education in government schools while also highlighting the remarkable individuals committed to the teaching profession. These people prove the power of individual efforts.”

Broadcast on a local television channel, GEO TV, the show has gained immense popularity, fast making an impact in a country where, according to the non-profit Alif Ailaan, the government spends just 2.4 percent of its national GDP on education and where just over half of children enroll in primary school.

Mariam Chughtai, the founder of Harvard’s Pakistan Student Group told The Diplomat that the singer was invited primarily because the student group “is committed to changing the discourse on Pakistan at Harvard from one of terrorism and challenges, to that of resilience, art and social change.”

“[Roy] embodied for us an activist who is using music to make an impact on the ground, which is why his discussants, Professor Ali Asani and I were able to have a conversation with him in light of how artists have historically played a key role in keeping governments and rulers accountable,” Chughtai said.

“Roy himself spoke of the main learnings he has had in his journey of Chal Parha, including clippings from his show which illustrated these learnings. They represented both strengths and weaknesses of society in being ready for change on education.”

Alongside his music career, which, over the past couple of years, has veered sharply into the direction of socio-political commentary, Roy has managed to rather successfully integrate both his music and humanitarian work
Roy told Dawn, “We have installed thumb-printing attendance machines in the five provinces to bring transparency to the issue of teacher absenteeism. We are now collecting this data and are happy to report that teacher attendance has increased considerably in these schools. Similarly, in the episode on corporal punishment, we are proposing a law banning physical abuse in schools and we plan to diligently pursue this issue in the media.”


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on education in Waziristan:

A quiet and peaceful revolution is taking place in South Waziristan. Girls, with the support and protection of the tribal elders and the community, are going to school. The Chaghmalai Government Girls High School is about to open its doors to welcome its first 269 students.
After staying several years in internally displaced persons’ camps or with host families elsewhere, locals are returning to South Waziristan. Due to extensive destruction during the conflict, starting again has been tough, especially for the poorest and the most vulnerable. Despite these hardships, a positive development has emerged — communities are passionate to educate their children, both boys and girls.
Since returning, the elders have held numerous jirgas with the army to discuss how to achieve lasting peace and a sustainable economic future. Perhaps, the exodus to other parts of Pakistan created a better understanding among the communities of the value of education and its role in achieving a better life. In a region where literacy rates for males is 29 per cent and for females just three per cent, this is a big step forward.
There are so many positive signs of change. During a visit in March, I attended the rehearsals for a Pakistan Day school concert in Spinkai Raghzai, one of the poorest villages. Like children all over the country, preparing for a national day celebration, the children in Spinkai Raghzai were just as excited, though a little nervous about performing in front of their peers and guests.
The theme was peace and education, developed around the quotes of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. But what made this little pageant so special was the setting. This is a post-conflict environment where children and their families have suffered terror, tragedy and great loss. In the past, the Taliban ran suicide-training camps in Spinkai and it has been the scene of unimaginable horror. Even now, the children there suffer anxiety that the militants might return.
It was hard not to be emotional. Only hard-hearted cynics could fail to be touched by the sense of occasion, or how remarkable this was in a now-peaceful village with so dark a recent history, or to mock the children’s hopes and enthusiasm for a peaceful future. I was reminded of a quote from Arundhati Roy’s, The God of Small Things, “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”...


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on tripling of private schools in Pakistan to 69,000:

With increasing in fiscal pressure, growing un-met demand for education, weak management of the public education system, and poor quality perception of the public schools, there is a structural gap on the supply side, revealed a report Access to Finance (A2F) for Low Cost Private Schools (LCPS).

Department for International Development (DFID) funded, Ilm Ideas Programme launched a study on Access to Finance for Low Cost Private Schools in partnership with Pakistan Microfinance Network here on Monday. The A2F for the LCPS report revealed that Pakistan's education industry provides a classic impact investment opportunity for private sector finance. Until now, the public sector has been playing a dominant role in the education industry. However, with increasing fiscal pressures, growing un-met demand for education, weak management of the public education system, and poor quality perception of the public schools there is a structural gap on the supply side. The report further states that given the scale the large number of out of school children and poor performance on international education indicators, there is a strong case for private sector intervention at the service delivery level either under a public-private partnership framework and/or on its own.

The number of private schools in Pakistan has multiplied to almost three folds - at a much faster rate than the number of public sector schools. Most of this growth has been within low cost private schools which now account for about one third of school enrolment in Pakistan. The study on 'A2F for LCPS' reports that there are currently over 69,000 low cost private schools in the country and is emerging as a key ancillary tool for improving enrolment rates and the quality of schooling in Pakistan.

Addressing on this occasion, Richard Montgomery Head of the UK's Department for International Development in Pakistan said that this innovative initiative would potentially help low cost private schools to access finance for the first time, which could enable them to invest in improving the quality of the education they provide, and expand access so that even more children can go to school. Given that Pakistan's population of 185 million will mushroom by half again within the next 40 years, innovative ideas like this will help ensure the burgeoning youth population is well educated and able to bring prosperity and stability to the country, Montgomery added.

Ross Ferguson Private Sector Development Advisor at UK's Department for International Development said that according to an estimate, LCPS sector needs over Rs 100 billion to fund existing expansion plans to support access to finance linked to investment in quality which can help raise both enrolment and learning outcomes. To achieve this education and the finance sectors must work together and the DFID is ready to support these partnerships, Ferguson added.

Panellists including representatives of Punjab Education Foundation, Education Foundation for Sindh, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, State Bank Pakistan, Khushali Bank, Kashf Foundation and First Microfinance Bank presented their views on exploring the full potential of the low cost private school sector with a view to enhancing access to credit and investment in quality solutions to improve operations, governance and overall quality of services the LCPS sector provides. A large number of people including donors, public and private sectors organisations from the education and finance sectors, school administrators and education service providers participated in the launching ceremony.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Christian Science Monitor report on teaching of science at a major madrassa in Pakistan's FATA region:

Anwarul Haq, a frail, bespectacled cleric, sits before a class of attentive students in Darul Uloom Haqqania, one of Pakistan’s many madrassas, or Islamic seminaries. His class of 1,400 students is the most senior of 4,000 enrollees at Darul Uloom, an hour's drive from Peshawar.

The students follow a 500-year-old curriculum adopted across South Asia. The oversized book used in Mr. Haq's class, a collection of ahadith, or sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, is centuries old and written in Arabic. Commentary written in Urdu in present-day India fills the margins.

“This country was built on Islam, the idea of following God's teachings. Here we are learning how to do that,” says Haq.

RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about Pakistan? Take this quiz.

What students learn, and don’t learn, in thousands of such private seminaries is a matter of concern for Pakistan’s government. Under a national security policy unveiled last month, Pakistan aims to bring madrassas under tighter state control, update their curricula to tone down extremist views, and introduce subjects like mathematics and science. The goal is to turn out graduates capable of getting decent jobs who won’t be tempted to join the Taliban or other militant groups.

“Graduates stand in between two worlds,” says Nafisa Shah, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. When they don't get jobs, she says, “they become vulnerable [to recruitment by militants].”

Pakistan currently has a tenuous ceasefire with homegrown Taliban militants and has released scores of suspected militants and accomplices in confidence-building measures. Still, terrorist attacks have continued by splinter groups the Taliban claim not to control. On Apr. 9, 21 people were killed in a blast at a fruit market in Islamabad.

Advanced degrees

Fears that Pakistan’s madrassas are breeding grounds for extremism are nothing new. After 9/11, the US government funded a $100 million madrassa reform program that met widespread hostility and failed to make much headway.

Clerics have scoffed at the government’s new security policy and point out that they’ve already instituted the kind of reforms the government advocates. Darul Uloom offers advanced specializations in Islamic law that Pakistan’s universities accept as Master's degrees, and runs computer labs for students.

Other madrassas have also upgraded their curriculum so that students, who spend much of their time memorizing the Quran, get a broader secular education. Most pupils are from poor backgrounds: madrassas offer free education, housing, and food.

Moreover, experts say the threat of militancy comes mostly from what students learn in their spare time, especially in hundreds of underground madrassas that are beyond the reach of both the clerics and the state. ...


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday story on a poll on secular education in madrasas:

Majority of Pakistanis believe an Imam should be aware of other subjects including science, technology, English etc besides his religious knowledge.

According to a Gilani Research Foundation Survey carried out by GallupPakistan, 72 per cent Pakistanis found it compulsory for Imam of mosques to gain knowledge of other subjects other than religious education.

A nationally representative sample of adult men and women, from across the four provinces was asked “Should the Imam be aware of subjects like science and technology, English language etc. besides his religious knowledge or not?” Responding to this, 72 percent said yes while only 28 per cent rejected this idea.


Riaz Haq said...

Imagine sending your children to school and there are no teachers.

You might go to the principal's office to see what's going on and to ask when the staff is likely to return. But the principal is not there either.

When you complain to the local education authorities they promise faithfully that the teachers will be back. While you're at it, you mention that none of the toilets at the school work and that there's no water for the kids to drink. There may not even be any chairs or desks. Or books.

In the U.S. you'd be expecting to wake up about now. You'd realize it was all just an unpleasant dream and walk your children to their nice school complete with teachers, books, desks and working toilets.

But if you were a parent with children in the public school system in Pakistan, you'd never wake from the nightmare.

There are said to be 25,000 "ghost schools" in Pakistan. The teachers all get paid. They just don't see the need to turn up. They don't go to school, so the kids don't either. The result is one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.

With a population approaching 200 million, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, but about 54 million are illiterate. While national statistics report that 70 percent of children are enrolled in in primary education, 50 percent drop out before reaching the fifth grade.

According to UNESCO's 2014 report on the state of global primary education, Pakistan has nearly 5.5 million children out of school, the second highest number in the world after Nigeria.

If you have a daughter in Pakistan, the odds are stacked against her going to school at all, especially if you're living in a poor urban slum or a rural area. There remain huge disparities in the levels of literacy between the sexes.

You can't blame the children. The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a non-profit that relies almost exclusively on donations from Pakistani and expat supporters in the U.S. and other countries, runs 1,000 quality schools in the country's worst slums and neglected rural areas. TCF has a long waiting list of parents desperate to get their kids educated.

I recently spent a week visiting TCF schools in Karachi. Immediately outside the school walls, there's abject poverty. Inside the school gates, there are pristine classrooms, computer labs and spotless washrooms. Drinking water is provided to ensure that no child goes thirsty.

This sanctuary could be a snapshot from any classroom in the world -- happy children hanging on their teacher's every word, immune to the stresses of the world outside.

Now working in 100 towns and cities across Pakistan, TCF strives to maintain an equivalent enrollment of girls and boys. This is no mean feat in a nation that has marginalized women even as it elected Benazir Bhutto its prime minister, a height yet to be achieved by an American woman. To sustain this gender ratio, TCF has an all-female faculty, because parents are more likely to send their daughters to schools where the teachers are women.

TCF schools have succeeded where others have failed because they've won the support of communities that have been forgotten and abandoned by the state.

On October 8, TCF in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C., co-hosted a conference titled "Pakistan's Biggest Challenge: Turning Around a Broken Education System", bringing together some of the best minds in education from around the world....