School Education Department Spearheads Innovation in the Educational System
Lahore, X January 2022:
The education system of any country sets the direction of its socio-economic development and growth. Punjab is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of population, with over 40% of the population under the age of sixteen. Furthermore, With at least 20 million students in public and private schools, Punjab has one of the largest education systems in the world and, has a tremendous opportunity of moving forward towards a better future by transforming its education structures. Therefore building a strong and good quality education system was identified as a key goal by the government in 2018, in the pursuit of amplifying human capital investment in the country.
Building on this mandate, the Education Ministry in Punjab started working diligently to identify gaps and to design impact-driven interventions to improve the system, which would later reflect on the overall education outcomes of the province. The government started working towards three goalposts; to improve access, equity, and governance in the milieu of school education in Punjab. With the injunction to eliminate extortion and corruption, the leadership galvanized the development of an integrated Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS). School Education Department (SED), Punjab is the second-largest department in terms of its administrative extensions employing 400,000 teachers in more than 48000 schools across Punjab. HRMIS brought process transformation, enabling transparent and efficient management of teacher's transfers, promotions, leaves, and pensions. The system also incorporated electronic submission of ACR; the annual progress report of the teachers and field formations. Registration of private schools was also included in the overall package of digitized services, which enabled transparency as well as revenue generation for the government. Electronic platforms were introduced for teachers’ training as well as students’ learning to mitigate learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Extensive digitization enabled the department to eliminate the corruption of billions of rupees every year.
To date, 3,550,381 leaves, 7,559 retirements have been electronically processed. 162341 applications have been received for teachers’ transfers and a total of 81577 transfer orders have been issued. Similarly, a total of 74352 license requests have been received and 44770 licenses have been issued to the private schools, affording a revenue of more than PkR 80 million to the national exchequer. Besides, 434,746 ACRs have been electronically submitted, stamping out the margins of bribery and nepotism, which were largely prevalent in a paper and people's intensive traditional system.
Another key policy initiative of PTI’s leadership is the Single National Curriculum (SNC), which aims to bridge the stark educational quality gap based on the socio-economic background of the students. Unlike the perception that some have about SNC, it is open to feedback and changes have been continuously incorporated based on the recommendations and suggestions from the stakeholders and general public.
Another substantial initiative is the mandatory Quran classes in schools; from grade 1 till 8th. During these classes, recitation of the Holy Quran will be ensured with the translation. Many have misrepresented Islam – the religion of peace, both among the rest of the world and our younger generation, so it is crucial to teach children, the real spirit of the religion. In the long run, this is going to help us counter extremist ideologies and to be able to raise a generation who comprehends the original spirit and substance of the religion they are associated with.
Furthermore, the Insaf Afternoon School Programme (IASP) has been launched to improve access to free quality education for every child across Punjab. Through this program the infrastructure-related costs connected to such a massive goal have been eliminated proving it to be an example of resource optimization, affording the government savings of around PKR 240 billion. This has been done by upgrading primary schools to elementary levels in afternoon shifts. As part of the first phase, 7008 primary schools have been upgraded to an elementary level, whereas in the next phase elementary schools will be upgraded to the secondary levels.
IASP addresses the issue of high drop-out rates after primary schooling, especially of female students. So far, more than 170,000 children (both male and female) have been enrolled in IASP across Punjab and the number is expected to rise through a rigorous enrollment drive in the forthcoming educational year.
Education is a constitutional right of every child, yet our transgender community remains deprived of it; which instigates a vicious cycle of development of an uneducated, unskilled human capital, available to be exploited through informal channels of livelihood generation. Under PTI’s vision of an inclusive education system, School Education Department (SED) Punjab has launched dedicated schools for the transgender community, which is catering to classes from the level of primary to high school. After receiving an overwhelming response in Multan, Mr. Murad Raas decided to scale up the initiative starting by establishing schools in Punjab’s nine divisional headquarters. Two of these schools will be operational in Lahore by February of 2021.
The initiative does not imply prohibiting children from the transgender community to attend regular schools, instead, the intervention is aimed at bridging the social gap and addressing the perception barriers, that affect the opportunity to get a formal education for the transgender community.
Under the current leadership, School Education Department (SED) Punjab is going to launch a few more mega-scale initiatives, addressing the issue of increasing access to quality education. The focus is going to remain on inculcating digital platforms at each level of service delivery to ensure sustainability and scalability.
For details visit https://schools.punjab.gov.pk/