A championed cause, but has the adopt-a-school policy really worked for Sindh?

Karachi:02 May:Even though there has been an unprecedented rise in the number and popularity of private schools and their reported, but under-researched, learning outcomes for children, there can be no argument over the fact that the state still remains the largest provider and facilitator of education for the masses.
How wise and practical is it then for the state to abdicate its role as the largest education provider to private entities and expect them to deliver results while the capacity of government mechanism rusts, but with the satisfaction that external change agents will be able bring about miracles?
Researchers, experts and government officials sat together at a consultation held a few days earlier to explore the efficacy of the Sindh government’s championed Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode of education management organisation (EMO) model.
To everyone’s surprise, and maybe a little dismay, researchers established that the adopt-a-school model of the Sindh government under its PPP policy had not been the great success it was perceived to be.
Dr Rabea Malik, fellow at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS), presented the preliminary findings of a research conducted to judge the efficacy of partnerships for management in schools in Sindh, by comparing 200 adopted and un-adopted schools, each, in the province.
According to her, there may be pockets where partnerships for management may be working but, on the whole, the method had failed to bring any significant change in the overall quality and services of education offered in schools.
Even though the adopt-a-school model has been in place for more than 15 years in Sindh, there are only between 500 and 600 adopted schools of the total of more than 45,000 government schools in the province,” she said.

Malik explained that though, in adopted schools, modest improvements were observed in enrolment and infrastructure, the overall learning outcomes remained the same as government schools. The performances of children in English, Math and Urdu in the 400 adopted and un-adopted schools, according to her research, had stayed the same. Moreover, there was also no significant impact on the presence of teachers.

However, she added, the school management committees, teachers and staff of adopted schools tend to be more active and mobilised than those working in facilities managed by the government, unclear and undefined targets and roles of the state and the external organisation made it hard to institutionalise the positive trend and give it any direction.Daily Times.