KARACHI: Education is the only weapon through which an effective war can be waged against terrorism, said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah while presiding over a meeting of Sindh Global Partnership for Education (SGPE) programme on Monday.

He added that recruitment in the provincial education department must be made on merit. “I won’t allow any body to compromise on merit.”

He directed the education department to establish a monitoring system to collect, analyse and disseminate data on key school level indicators, including students’ enrolment and teachers’ presence, in order to improve performance of government schools.

The chief minister also instructed the chief secretary to get a detailed list of 1,100 non-viable school buildings as were pointed out by the education minister so that they could be utilised in the public interest. “The list may be provided with necessary recommendations,” he said, while directing the education department to ensure that the monitoring system is run effectively. “The purpose is to put in place a proper education system in which everyone, including teachers and students could play their respective role,” he said.

Mr Shah highlighted the need for rationalization of teaching staff so that additional staff members of one school could be transferred to the understaffed schools. He directed Education Minister Nisar Khuhro to personally supervise the rationalisation process.

Earlier, Senior Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said there were 1,100 non-viable schools in the province which could not be allowed to function. “During the tenure of Gen Musharraf, nazims had constructed these schools unnecessarily. In a village of 200 population, four to five schools have been constructed,” he explained.

He said 225 monitoring assistants or `supervisors’ had been selected through an IBA test. There would be 29 junior clerks, and 11 data processing operators and others, the minister added.

Education Secretary Fazllullah Pechuho said around 2,500 schools were lying closed across Sindh due to the shortage of teaching staff. “We will start recruitment once the government lift the ban,” he said.

Mr Pechuho said 8,000 schools had been lying closed in the past but “with the constant efforts of the government most of the schools have been made functional, but 2,500 of the schools are yet to be made operational.”

About the SGPE programme, the secretary said it was a $66 million project assisted by the World Bank. Of the fund, the bank had released $22 million, he said.

The objective of the programme is to establish a monitoring structure that improves performance and transparency of government school system. He said that one of the components of the project was to establish schools monitoring system. Under this system, data on enrolment, attendance and other key school level indicators would be collected and analysed by independent monitors on a monthly basis.

By June 30, four monthly reports would be generated, he added.

Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Secretary to CM (U&B) Iqbal Durani, Finance Secretary Sohail Rajput and others attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2016

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