It’s no secret that the public education system in Pakistan has been the most neglected institution of the country, for the past few decades. For years upon years, private schools kept emerging and the quality of public education progressively worsened. Leadership after leadership came in and paid very little to no attention the the education system in the country. Which gave even more way to private institutions to expand and spread.
One of the biggest reasons the current government got so much support was because of their focus on education. And with the emergence of the Insaf Afternoon School Programme, the Insaf Academy and the Human Resource Management Information System, that is exactly what has happened. The Insaf Afternoon School Programme is a work of sheer genius. Dr Murad Raas, the Provincial Minister of Punjab for School Education, has put together and executed a plan to improve the quality of public education.
The Insaf Afternoon School Programme aims to make quality education more accessible for every child in Punjab, regardless of socioeconomic background. The IASP’s plan, to use existing primary schools in the province and turn them into elementary schools in the afternoon, has enabled 7,008 additional elementary schools to start their operation. In 2022, the plan is for these elementary schools to be upgraded to secondary school status.
Additionally, the problem of children being made to put an end to their education after the primary level has also been addressed. This issue has been more prevalent among female students, because of various factors. Schools offering higher levels of education are usually further away and much lesser in number than primary schools, which is why parents have always been reluctant in sending the girls of the family. Moreover, the more accessible private schools offering higher education are also more expensive, resulting in a high female drop out rate. The fact that the government is now providing more accessible, free education for these girls, has allowed for a solution to this problem.
Not only has the IASP enabled over 170,000 students to access further education for free, they have also saved the national treasury over 240 billion rupees, by utilizing the infrastructure that was already available to the government. The IASP has not only been beneficial to the students, but also to the members of the community, where teachers are being inducted from within, keeping a strict check on the quality of education bein provided in the schools.
Along with the inaccessibility of education because of the rise of private schools, after-school academies have also created an education monopoly of their own, minting money while filling classrooms and their pockets. The Provincial Minister for Education has vowed to change that by setting up an online education portal for classes 9 through 12. These online portals also serve as a means to education during these unprecedented times of COVID.
Another pressing issue in the education sector has been the absence of school teachers, who are already on contract. These teachers used to take their salaries, and would not show up, especially if they had been posted to ‘smaller’ cities and towns. with the introduction of the Human Resource Management Information System, the process has now become transparent and much more efficient. This system not only holds the teachers accountable but also has systemized the management of their transfers, leaves pensions and all things related to the organization of the education sector.
With all these new systems and programmes put in action by Dr Murad Raas, there is a huge upward change in the arena of education in Punjab. More and more children are benefitting, being able to access education, securing good futures. Moreover, the national exchequer has also generated a revenue of over 80 Million rupees. After decades, we have seen a betterment in the area of education in Punjab. And after ages, have we had an Education Minister who has taken a personal interest in the public education sector. We are waiting to see the Insaf Afternoon School Programme, the Insaf Academy and the Human Resource Management Information System scale up and see every child in the province obtaining higher education.