ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank will assist the Sindh government develop a programme implementation plan for the ‘Sindh Education Impact Bond’ (SEIB) to address specific challenges to improving the quality of education in the province, it was learnt here.

The bank has approved a technical assistance that will support the Sindh government explore, validate and subsequently operationalise an ‘Impact Bond’ transaction.

The ADB assistance will bring about improved institutional capacity of the provincial government and its key implementation agencies towards developing an understanding of innovation financing approaches for the education sector.

The bank had commissioned a high-level feasibility study to explore the use of Impact Bonds in Pakistan, primarily to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of development financing in the country. Results of the feasibility study included proposed recommendations on next steps and identified social sector themes for implementation in Pakistan.

Will also assist in mobilisation of additional financing from private sector

Globally, Impact Bonds have shown that they can unlock new sources of capital and address development challenges; they have not been used in Pakistan to date, says a report of the ADB reviewed by Dawn.

The technical assistance will also help exploring mobilisation of additional upfront financing from the private sector for their project deliverables; evaluate options to synchronise efforts under the SEIB with the Sindh Secondary Education Improvement Project (SSEIP); and internalising outcome-based contracting for the delivery of development outcomes such as learning outcomes or improved school enrolment gains especially for girls.

The technical assistance will also evaluate the operationalization of certain deliverables under SSEIP through a viable impact bond transaction.

The ADB through the technical assistance will also develop a validation study, detailed programme implementation plan, strategic roadmap for business operations and identifying possible implementation arrangements.

It had approved SSEIP for Sindh in 2020 and outlined increasing the inclusiveness of the secondary education system in Sindh as one of its key outcomes with increasing the proportion of females among secondary education enrolments in project districts by 38 per cent and strengthening of learning assessment system in Sindh as one of its key outputs.

It is envisaged that upon the preparation of the validation study and the programme implementation plan, all relevant stakeholders, including the Sindh government and ADB, will be ready to take necessary decisions and approvals required for the implementation of the proposed SEIB.

The ADB technical assistance will support the Sindh government, Pakistan and its key implementation agencies for the education sector, to explore impact bond modalities and develop a business case for using impact bonds to accomplish their educational goals.

The Sindh government’s ‘School Education Sector Plan and Roadmap for Sindh’ (2019 -2024) places improving access to quality education for out of school children, addressing barriers to accessing education for girls and improving quality of learning and assessment practices in public schools to be their key priorities along with the institutional capacity building of allied institutions of SELD and, seeks formal collaboration with the private sector.

The ADB report on the project says even though Pakistan has recorded significant improvements in overall school participation and educational attainment, it still faces severe challenges in providing high-quality education to children with its primary gross enrollment ratio increasing from 49.1 per cent in 1980 to 94.0 per cent in 2019.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2022

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