Currently, student enrollment in the private sector accounts for 37% of enrollment in all educational institutions across the country. Given the growing size of the private education sector, the state has been engaging with the private sector to offer education as a public good; the overarching framework for this policy being public private partnerships (PPP). This is generally achieved through the provincial education foundations in the case of subsides and vouchers. PPPs also includes adopt a school and education management organization models. It is in this context that SAHE held a panel discussion on the state’s role in the private education sector at Avari Hotel in Lahore during the launch of its annual report- the Education Monitor- on ‘Education in Pakistan: The state’s engagement with the private sector’.
The discussion focused on how improvements in the quality of education in private schools are being hampered by a low expectations approach. The performance of both Low-Cost Private Schools (LCPS) and public schools is below par and just because the former are marginally better than the latter is not sufficient. The discussion focused on how a more holistic definition of quality needs to be articulated that is standardized across both public and private schools. In addition, that the markers of quality in private schools need to be reconsidered- for example, use of the Quality Assurance Test (QAT) in government supported private schools (through the provincial education foundations) can be detrimental to teaching and learning in classrooms. The panel also deliberated on how the private sector can be effectively regulated to drive up quality.
Qamar ul Islam Raja- Chairman of the standing committee for education in the Punjab Assembly- was the chief guest at this event. Panelists included Nargis Sultana (Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations), Aneela Salman (Managing Director, Punjab Education Foundation), Salman Hamayun (Executive Director, Institute for Social and Policy Sciences), Jamil Najam (former Director, Public Instructions, Punjab), Qaiser Rashid (Deputy Secretary Planning and Budget, School Education Department Punjab), Javaid Malik (Education Adviser at DFID) and Faisal Bari (Director, Institute for Development and Economic Alternatives).
Panelists had an engaging discussion and raised a number of interesting points relating to equity, quality and regulation in/of private schools. In regards to quality, Faisal Bari stated that the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and the LCPS model are flouting the minimum wage laws, which is not a sustainable way to build a workforce especially a teaching workforce as low wages means low quality teachers. Salman Hamayun emphasized the need to develop a common standard of quality across the board and collect data that is currently missing in order to decide what model (public or private) is best. Qaiser Rashid stated that once the quality of education improves in public schools, private schools will follow suit. Aneela Salman argued that the use of student learning outcomes is the best and most robust mechanism for gauging quality (relative to other indicators) in PEF supported schools. With regards to regulation of private schools, Javed Malik and Jamil Najam commented that an awareness campaign is necessary so that private schools know what regulations are in place. When enforcing these regulations, it is important that the relevant authorities do so in a fair and consistent manner.
|Date||23 June 2015|
|Sponsor||Open Society Foundations|
|Themes||Private sector; Governance|
Private Educational institutes regulations bill in next PA, DAWN, 24 June 2015
PEF schools set up in backward areas, The News, 24 June 2015
Enrolment of children in private sector is around 37 percent, Business Recorder, 24 June 2015
Amal Aslam, Program Manager
Jun 2015 | PUBLICATION
Education in Pakistan: The state’s engagement with the private sector