Provincial govt to continue with education reform project

HYDERABAD:04 August: Despite criticism over the Sindh Education Reform Project (SERP) I and II, the education department will launch SERP III after completion of the ongoing second phase in 2018. Education Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili, while responding to queries at a press conference in Hyderabad on Thursday, said the government will continue the SERP with the World Bank loan.

The government obtained a $300 million loan from the World Bank for SERP I (2009-12) and $400 million for the ongoing SERP II. The bank will be approached again for the third phase. “The World Bank is satisfied [with SERP’s progress]. We have met all the DLIs [disbursement linked indicators] and the guidelines that were set by them,” the secretary claimed. “But, there is always room for development.”

According to the statistics available on the World Bank’s website, the net enrolment rate (NER) target of 47.6% till primary level was set for June 30, 2017. But, the department achieved only 38.3%. Similarly, against the 25.8 % NER target for the middle level, 19.2% NER was achieved. However, the department managed to surpass its 14.1% target NER set for the matric level by achieving 14.7% NER.

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The project aimed to construct and refurbish 1,346 classrooms in primary schools from 2012 to June, 2017. However, only 894 classrooms could be built or restored.

Components of the SERP include preparation of salary and non-salary budgets of schools, acquiring third party support for managing and monitoring the flow and use of school budgets, administration of annual school census for government schools, appointment of specialised cadres of education managers and school headmasters, preparing job guidelines and management materials and a tailored annual performance evaluation process.
The secretary said at the press conference that only half of the 2,000 vacancies for headmasters of the government schools have been filled. The remaining 1,000 posts will be filled in the next three to four months.
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Uqaili admitted that the shortage of drawing and disbursing officers (DDOs), which are vested with financial authority, is affecting the administrative and financial work across the province. He said that over half of the 4,000 posts of DDOs are vacant.

“We don’t have DDOs,” he said, adding that it was among the department’s top priorities to appoint the DDOs to unhitch the choked finances.

When questioned about delay in filling of around 250 BPS-19 vacancies of deputy directors and headmasters, the education secretary said the promotions are pending with the chief secretary. He said that 2,600 subject guide teachers have been selected for specialised training. Each trained teacher will then be tasked with training the teachers of mathematics, science, Urdu, Sindhi and English subjects in clusters of 10 to 15 schools, he said.‘Lyari is coming forward in education’