LAHORE: In the name of bringing reforms, the Maryam Nawaz-led provincial government is going to hand over 13,000 non-performing public schools of the province to non-government organisations (NGOs), Dawn learnt on Wednesday.

The chief minister presided over a meeting to review the School Education Reforms Programme and decided to introduce reforms in the non-performing government schools in the coming three months, says a news release from the CM office.

She also sought a final plan of action for providing tetra-pack flavoured milk up to class 5 in schools.

The CM directed officials to contact the education management organizations to bring improvements to the non-performing schools.

It was principally decided to contact the donors for the provision of missing facilities in the government schools along with reviewing the proposal to finalise a partnership with NGOs.

Punjab Minister for School Education Rana Sikandar Hayat told the meeting that a plan for the provision of curriculum textbooks in the government schools has been prepared.

The CM expressed her concern over ghost enrollment of students in the schools. She desired a computer lab and a library in each school. The CM was given a briefing on the transport system. She directed to complete the teachers’ rationalization process within three months.

The proposal to make a partnership with the private sector to oversee performance of 136 non-performing schools was reviewed during the meeting.

Senior provincial minister Maryam Aurangzeb, information minister Azma Bokhari, school education minister Rana Sikandar Hayat, senator Parvez Rashid, MPA Sania Ashiq, chief secretary and other concerned officers attended the meeting.

A Punjab Teacher Union (PTU) office-bearer told Dawn that the government was handing over public schools to NGOs along with their staff.

He said the privatisation of public schools would affect the quality of education and deprive the poor students of their right to inexpensive education.

He said the government schools were providing free and multiple admissions to the students throughout the year while the NGOs charged fees and limited the admissions to just once a year.

He said the government schools were facing a shortage of teachers and that new recruitment could solve this problem.

He said the government was planning to transfer the teachers of the privatised schools to other schools and would also offer them early retirement, which would demoralise the teachers and affect their performance.

He said the previous interim government had also handed over some schools to an NGO but those projects had failed as the private organisations could not manage the schools.

Minister for school education Rana Sikandar Hayat and school education secretary Dr Ehtsham Anawar were not available for comments.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

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