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LESSONS:

Primary Education (Girls) Sector Project (Loan 977-PAK[SF])

sector: Education | country: Pakistan

Need for a Flexible Assistance Package. Most schools have common needs. But they also have specific needs that differ from one school to another. Some schools need more classrooms, others need furniture. Many have toilets, but do not have a regular water supply. Other schools have fans, but no electricity. These examples suggest the need for a flexible, rather than a standard or uniform assistance package to maximize the potential impact of inputs that are already in place. This approach might be more complex administratively, but it could also be more cost-effective.

Mass Training of Teachers Necessary, But Not Sufficient. As a quick-fix remedy, the mass training of headmistresses and teachers is necessary to achieve a critical mass of agents of change in the classroom. But the momentum generated must be sustained, or backsliding to old attitudes, habits, and practices will invariably follow. Experience from the Project suggests that mass training should be followed by an institutionalized professional development program. The establishment of the provincial institutes of teacher education and the continuing work of the government college for elementary teachers (GCETs) are important in this respect. However, these institutions need continuing support.

Longer Warranty Period for Civil Works. Vigilance is necessary to ensure that contractors comply with agreed-upon specifications. Some construction defects were not evident until one or two years later. To ensure better quality, the warranty period should be long enough to safeguard against extended defects. At the same time, additional safeguards should be put in place to counter any new opportunities for corruption. The Executing Agency would need to monitor the soundness of completed civil works beyond project implementation and ensure that contractors address defects during the warranty period.

Parental Involvement. Children assisted by parents at home in their academic studies perform better in school than those who are not assisted. Most parents do not assist their children at home because they have little or no education and are not knowledgeable in the subject matter. However, parents can provide support by encouraging their children to study and do their assignments and allowing them the time to do so. The important point is for parents to emphasize the value of education to their children. Teachers should reach out to parents during parents-teachers association (PTA) meetings to advocate parental involvement at home. This would also change the perception of many parents that PTA meetings are mostly about money matters. The PTA should include parents from poor families and should be allowed to make independent decisions. Information and educational campaigns focusing on parents’ rights and responsibilities in supervising and supporting school activities should be pilot-tested in the ongoing second project.

Linking Projects with Adult Literacy, Livelihood, and Other Poverty Reduction Projects. Research findings in ADB projects show (i) the important role that the functional literacy of the parents plays in ensuring that 6-10 year old girls enroll and stay in school, (ii) the influence of poverty on dropout rates, and (iii) the influence of family income on learning achievement in basic education. What these findings suggest is that the impact of similar future projects will be maximized if they are linked with other projects related to adult literacy, livelihood, and poverty reduction in specific geographic areas, especially rural areas.

Long-Term Commitment in a Short-Term Environment. Taking into account the long program cycle needed for sustained development of the subsector, a series of overlapping projects with consistent core objectives are needed to make an impact, over ten years or more, on key subsector indicators while strengthening Government capacity to manage the subsector. While the Project has laid the foundation to make primary education more accessible to girls in rural areas, and the second project aims to further improve educational quality, it is not too soon to start work on a third project to ensure that it overlaps with the ongoing second project. Inputs from this project performance audit report (PPAR) would be timely both for the midterm review of the second project, planned for the fourth quarter of 2000, and the project preparatory activities for a third project. Beneficiary and stakeholder participation needs to be integrated into project preparation and implementation planning at the earliest in order to engender a sense of ownership of the project.

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