KARACHI: The Promoting Girls’ Education in Balochistan Project (PGEB) has brought almost 39,000 children into school, including 33,414 girls, across Balochistan province, according to a World Bank report.
Balochistan government agencies implementing the project followed a well-defined selection criteria for schools, making community partnership a priority, which increased trust by citizens in their institutions. Girls are starting to see a new role model as female teachers have begun to be recruited from their own communities through a competitive and transparent process.
PGEB has improved access to education and retention of children in schools, especially girls, in the remotest parts of Balochistan. This is one of the eleven projects being financed under the KP, FATA and Balochistan Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) set up in 2010 to support the rehabilitation effort in crisis-affected areas.
Balochistan has traditionally ranked lowest among education indicators in Pakistan. The net enrolment rates (NER) for boys and girls at all levels are at least 10% lower than the national average. The indicators for female enrolment are exceptionally poor, especially at the rural level. The NER for girls in rural Balochistan is 33% at the primary level (age 6-10 years), and drops to 7% at the middle school level. Almost 40% of the 22,000 settlements do not have schools.
The vast geographical area and low capacity for education service delivery are key factors. Almost 9% schools are without any shelter, 57% schools have no drinking water, 46% have no boundary walls, 52% have no electricity, and 29% are without a toilet facility.
The Bank has a long-standing relationship with the Balochistan government in education. The Balochistan Education Support Project (BESP), established 649 schools in Balochistan. While BESP adopted a community-driven school development and management model, PGEB set the government as the implementer to support MDTF’s overall objective of building state-citizen trust.
Through this project, the Government rebuilt 123 girls’ schools that were previously shelter less. It also provided missing facilities including toilets, drinking water, boundary walls, solar panels, electricity, blackboards and furniture to 226 girls’ schools. Additionally, 260 new primary schools have been set up with community participation. The teacher attendance rate in these schools is 90%, while the overall retention rate of children in PGEB-supported schools is 86 percent.
Beneficiary consultations have highlighted that PGEB has helped address some of the barriers to girls’ education. Key factors include the availability of a secure physical space for children and increased teacher attendance, ensured through the efforts of the Parent Teacher School Management Committees (PTSMCs).
Female teachers have been hired from within the community, creating a new role model for girls and influencing perceptions about women’s role in the community. Moreover, the community-driven process of school site selection and the formation of PTMCs has helped communities come together for a common goal. PTMC members have been making efforts to increase enrolment by convincing parents of out-of-school children to send their children to school. Teachers are starting to focus on teaching quality, in an effort to maximise the potential of children who are now able to attend school.
As PGEB has reached out to 39,000 students against a baseline of 29,726 students, across 12 districts in Balochistan, many inspiring stories have emerged from the field.