Provincial lawmakers not focusing on education

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Education on Friday, November 20, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Not a single cabinet minister from the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments could score an ‘A’ on the ‘Midterm Report Card for Members of the Provincial Assembly’, while the cabinets of Punjab and Balochistan only had one ‘A’ each.

According to the report, prepared by education campaigners Alif Ailaan, a majority of provincial lawmakers have not made significant progress towards improving public schools in their constituencies after being elected.

Lawmakers’ interest in education can be gauged from the fact that out of 577 directly-elected legislators from the four provinces, only 29 managed an overall ‘A’ grade. The scorecard for progress encompasses school facilities, student retention, gender parity and student-teacher ratios in public schools during the first two and half years of lawmakers’ tenure.

Alif Ailaan report card gives only two individual ‘A’ grades among all four provincial cabinets

Sindh

Of the 130 directly elected members of the Sindh Assembly, only five MPAs received an ‘A’. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s constituency PS-29 Khairpur-I scored a ‘B’, as did Sindh Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro’s constituency, PS-36 Larkana.

Eight MPAs received ‘A+’ grades in student retention, but 66 per cent of constituencies scored a ‘C’ or lower.

Both Hyderabad and Karachi saw significant improvement in gender parity in public schools, while Thatta and Tharparkar were the “worst performing constituencies” in terms of gender parity.

The overall grade given to the Provincial Assembly of Sindh was a ‘C’.

Punjab

The report card for the Punjab Assembly shows that, of the 297 directly elected MPAs, 18 made genuine overall progress since the 2013 general elections. The overall grade for the Punjab Provincial Assembly was a ‘B’. Constituencies in south Punjab dominated the list of the most improved districts in Punjab, receiving 14 of the 18 ‘A’ grades.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s constituency PP-159 Lahore-XXIII received a ‘B’, as did Minister for School Education Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan’s constituency, PP-149 Lahore-XIII.

The report revealed that 53 per cent of Punjab’s constituencies received a ‘B’ or above in gender parity, a “slight” improvement that was distributed across north, central and south Punjab.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Of the 99 directly elected MPAs in the KP Provincial Assembly, three MPA’s constituencies saw improvements in public sector schools.

The constituency of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PK-13 Nowshera-II received a ‘B’ and Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Mohammad Atif’s constituency PK-30 Mardan-VIII received a ‘C’. The overall grade given to the KP Provincial Assembly was a ‘B’. Constituencies also saw some improvement in the student-teacher ratio, with 52 per cent of all constituencies scoring a ‘B’ or higher.

With respect to gender parity, Torghar, Charsadda and Nowshera saw improvement, while Battagram and Lower Dir received ‘E’ grades. The report stated that the ‘D’ grades given to four constituencies in Swat and three in Buner suggested a deterioration in gender parity in these districts, including the constituency of former education minister Sardar Hussain Babak (PK-77 Buner-I).

Balochistan

The report card for the Balochistan Provincial Assembly revealed that of 51 elected MPAs, three can lay claim to constituencies that have seen evidence of overall progress since the 2013 elections. The overall grade for the Balochistan Provincial Assembly was a ‘B’.

Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch’s constituency, PB-48 Kech-I, received a ‘B’.

The report stated that there was some improvement in gender parity across the province, with 59 per cent of all constituencies scoring a ‘B’ or above. There was also “scant” improvement in student-teacher ratios, with 53 per cent of all constituencies scoring a ‘C’ or below.

Regional divides continued to feature in Balochistan’s educational landscape, with many constituencies in south Balochistan among the worst-performing constituencies, suggesting widespread neglect in this region.