Author: Organization and Management Development Center, Institute of Leadership and Management
Primary education is an important project of the UNICEF-Government of Pakistan Country Programme 1999-2003. UNICEF advocated to the Government of Punjab to work together and ensure that all the children of Sialkot between the ages of 5-7 go to school. This will be the first district in Pakistan that will achieve 100% child enrollment. After a series of discussions, an agreement was reached with the Education Department, Punjab to develop a strategy and implement a Universal Primary Education project in three districts (Sialkot, Rawalpindi and Bahawalpur). UNICEF had agreed to provide financial support of Rs. 41.848 million for three years (1999-2001) to support additional inputs needed for the project.
Purpose / Objective
The project monitoring reports indicated that 100% enrollment of children 5-9 years was achieved in October 2000. To verify, UNICEF hired the services of a Karachi-based consultant for an independent review of this claim. The survey conducted by the consultant revealed that enrollment rate is 94%, with a dropout rate of 1%.
In order to have a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to the success of the project or strategy, UNICEF and the Education Department, Punjab decided to document project processes and do a formative evaluation, with a major focus on advocacy and social mobilization, with the following objectives:
- To document project experience in terms of design and implementation
- To evaluate UPE project objectives regarding attitudinal change among project stakeholders
- To inform decision makers about successes and lessons learned from this project
It was decided to adopt a participatory approach for this evaluation study to ensure the participation of all the stakeholders. The following techniques were used:
- Meetings with UNICEF, Education Department's staff and other project stakeholders to understand the project and assignment
- Identify stakeholders and key role players in project design and implementation
- Participatory workshop for determination of study questions and instruments design
- Discussions and meetings with identified stakeholders
- Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) with stakeholders
- In-depth interviews with key role players
- Household field survey to identify various aspects of attitudinal change in the communities
Key Findings and Conclusions
Enrollment rate of children 5-9 years is 97% with 95% confidence. The enrollment rate is fairly close to earlier findings under the Raasta Study, which concluded enrollment rate of 94%. These figures confirm that enrollment rate has reached close to 100%. This evaluation study indicates the dropout rate of 0.7%, which was earlier estimated to be 1.2% in the Raasta study. The slight variation can be attributed to a number of operational reasons and sample-related errors. These high figures indicate that the plan and strategy for the UPE for Sialkot district has been successful.
Replication of the Sialkot model at other places needs to be taken with care. Sialkot has some special advantages. First, the rate of enrollment at the time of the start of the project was fairly high (74%). There is a high literacy rate among the parents. Finally, a successful UNICEF/ILO/SCCI child labor project prior to UPE has been a major advantage for this project.
In addition, the replication of this project in areas with very low baseline enrollment will cause a very high pressure on the institutional capacity of the education system. Even in Sialkot, increase in school admissions is putting pressure on existing resources. Classrooms, furniture and teachers are short. These deficiencies will adversely effect school environments, especially the government schools. There are many vacant teaching posts.
Non-availability of baseline date on the knowledge, aptitude and practices (KAP) has been a major problem to measure change in the attitude over the project period. Baseline survey should be an essential prerequisite for the start of project in a new district.
The data reveals that parents are the main contributors for enrollment (88%). The parents need to be the main focus for communication campaigns in new project areas. There is a high level of awareness among parents regarding the importance of education -- parents of 99% of the sample have a desire to educate their children beyond primary.
The data reveals that efforts have been made to change the attitude of the people about education. The non-availability of baseline data makes it difficult to estimate this change. However, a number of outcomes of the study support this statement. The visit of the teachers (25% cases) to a child's house and parents' visits to school (89% cases with 65% regular monthly visits) are indicative of attitudinal change. Further, 95% children are enrolled in schools with the support of their family. Desire for higher education (99% cases for beyond primary) is another supporting evidence.
Corporal punishment is still common (47% cases). The inter-tehsil variation is also significant. The incidence of corporal punishment is 35% in Sialkot as compared to 72% in Pasrur. [tehsil - next level below district]
It is ascertained that the people have started owning the project. People own the enrollment decision and are also contributing for improvement of the schools' environment and facilities. People have started taking interest in school affairs directly as well as through school councils.
Spin-off effects: The success of UPE has started attracting stakeholders in the education sector for new undertakings. Encouraged by the success of the on-going project, the Education Department has decided to launch the UPE project in eight more districts in Punjab. International donor agencies are also taking interest in the project. Prominent donors like Reebok have made a number of study visits. Impressed by the achievements of the project, they expressed their willingness to finance similar type of projects in other parts of the country.
Capacity building of the MEs has gifted Sialkot a good pool of persons. Such pool can be quite instrumental for utilization in certain social mobilization related projects.
Major recommendations of the evaluation are summarized under.
- The support for capacity building initiatives introduced under UPE should be continued till such time some alternative and institutionalized system is developed. Continuous, supportive supervision, through learning coordinators or otherwise, of teacher's teaching methods and student's learning assessment is recommended.
- The monitoring system for the project may be made "a learning system" that is open enough to learn from failures and analyze the reasons to ensure success in future staff. A set of indicators for periodic monitoring and evaluations should form part of the project, and baseline survey covering these indicators should be the first project activity.
- Extra curricular activities involving communities should be encouraged in the schools. School Councils' meetings are another forum that needs to be strengthened and formalized.
- Corporal punishment needs to be discouraged. A child-friendly environment in the school needs to be created. This will require attitudinal change of teachers and parents as well. A well-planned and focused campaign needs to be launched for this purpose.
- The inter-tehsil differences observed in Sialkot suggest that the next study should be more tehsil-focused. The study suggests that the replication of the Sialkot model at other places would require a number of adaptations.
PDF files require Acrobat Reader.
Education - Other