THIS is apropos the letter ‘Problems of 1.5m FAS students’ (Aug 6) by M. Majid, Shahzad Ahmad and Abdul Rehman. The letter has tried to portray a negative image of public-private partnership (PPP) model of free and quality education introduced by the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) which has won national as well as international recognition and applause for its effectiveness.
To begin with, the fee structure in the Foundation-Assisted School (FAS) programme of the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) is not Rs250 to Rs300 as claimed in the letter but Rs400 to Rs700 per student.
The PEF works through a network of partner schools serving the cause of gratis education in all the 36 districts of Punjab. According to the agreement, the PEF gives monthly fee at the rate of Rs400 a student up to elementary and secondary levels (for arts students); Rs500 a student in the secondary level (for science students) and Rs700 for higher secondary student to its partner schools.
Besides this, free textbooks are provided to every student by the PEF every year. In addition, the PEF has provided free library books to partner schools which could not afford such a facility themselves.
The FAS operates under the PPP model in which partner schools are required to arrange teachers and school buildings at their own and the payment of utility bills is also their responsibility.
It is important to note that the payment of teachers’ salaries, according to the partnership deed, is the exclusive responsibility of the partner schools, and the PEF has nothing to do with it.
PEF partners are all low-cost schools which are situated in city slums or peri- urban areas so that poor children could easily access them.
The FAS programme has proved very beneficial for those who cannot afford to pay for education of their children as it has freed them from many expenses.
Owing to the limited financial resources, the PEF has capped the total number of students to 30 in nursery classes. It is done to ensure that these students are retained in partner schools because it was observed that partner schools started to give admissions to under-age infants in nursery classes for the sake of getting more funds from the PEF.
This decision has helped to improve the quality of education in junior classes and now students get better attention of their teachers.
I would also like to mention here that the PEF has witnessed tremendous increase in its programmes during recent years, especially in southern Punjab, by reaching out from 18 districts to all the 36 districts.
The PEF has provided soft loans to flood-affected partners in the past so that they could rehabilitate their damaged infrastructure. Loans for the purchase of computers were also provided so that IT education could be introduced in them. This is a proof of its tremendous success which has helped many people to send their children to schools without any financial implication.
The PEF’s relationship with the partner schools is based on mutual respect and trust and partners are encouraged to provide quality education to their students.
URUJ SALMAN Punjab Education Foundation Lahore