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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Balochistan: Developing Private-Public Partnerships for Education Service Delivery

With limited economic opportunities, lagging social indicators, and large gender gaps, Balochistan is the poorest of Pakistan’s four provinces. The challenges of internal strife are further exacerbated by the delicate situation on Pakistan’s western border.

The overall literacy rate in Balochistan, at 38% (20% for females), compares unfavorably with the Pakistan average at 54% (42% for females). While gross primary enrolment rates in primary education in the Province improved from 62% in 2001-2 to 65% in 2005-06, it lags behind the nationwide average of 72% and 87% respectively.

The difference in enrolment rates is mostly explained by the expansion of non-government and private provision of education in the rest of Pakistan where they account for 38% of all primary enrolment. In contrast, the corresponding figure in Balochistan is 11% only. Over the years, low public investment in education and dissipating administrative capacity at all levels has led to a system that is characterized by low enrolment, high teacher and student absenteeism, little or no engagement by communities.


To actively engage the communities on a long-term basis, and tap the entrepreneurial spirit of private and non-government sector to deliver primary education, in particular for girls, and to the poorest communities.


As a first step the Balochistan Education Foundation (BEF), originally mandated to encourage private sector participation in education service delivery, was identified as a potential pivot for all project activities. The Bank team and the Government of Balochistan worked together to restructure the BEF into an autonomous, well-governed and private sector managed apex financing and monitoring body. BEF in turn competitively selected NGOs’ and other organizations as Implementing Partners to help identify and establish schools, and teachers, monitor and build capacity of communities in poor rural areas.

The BEF was tasked with setting up 650 free-of-charge Community Schools in poor rural communities. The communities were given control of all school resources, including teacher hiring, salaries, and school construction. School construction will start in the second year of each schools operation and will be linked to students and teachers’ attendance and adequate community supervision. For urban and semi-urban areas, BEF selected private school operators to set up 300 low-fee schools over the project period, with a promise to subsidize them up to US$6 per student per month for 3 years. In addition, they were allowed to charge up to US$5 in monthly fees. Over 90% of schools actually charge less than US$2 per month. In all cases, schools were built in communities without schools, with an emphasis on enrolling out of school children, especially girls.

Impact in the First year- 2007

BEF and its partners have set up 195 new rural Community Schools in 17 districts of Balochistan, with an enrolment of over 8,000 students, including over 3,900 girls, as against an initial target of 50 schools with an enrolment of 1,500 students. In addition, 95 new low-fee Private Schools in peri-urban and urban areas have been set up in 22 districts of Balochistan, with an enrolment of over 6,000 students, including over 2,900 girls as against an initial target at appraisal stage of 50 schools with an enrolment of 2500 students. Capacity building activities, including intensive and regular training of teachers, communities, NGOs, and BEF staff is underway.

The Road Ahead

BEF and its partners are on target to identify 450 additional community school sites in 2008. 250 of these schools are scheduled to open by March 2008, with a further 200to be open by March 2009 (one year ahead of schedule). In addition, BEF has received some 500 applications for the 200 remaining private school sites, and progress is being made to open all these schools by March 2009 (two years ahead of schedule). Efforts are being made to intensify the focus on improving quality of education through off-site and ongoing on-site teacher training, and regular student and teacher assessment.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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