Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) is the largest public private partnership (PPP) project in education sector not only in Pakistan but also in whole South Asian region. In this PPP model small entrepreneur's running private schools are registered and monthly fees of students enrolled in these schools, which invariably came from low income families, are paid by provincial government. PEF is presently catering to the educational needs of around 2.5 million students enrolled in 7500 affiliated schools across Punjab. In addition to monthly fees these students are also provided with free books. These schools are employing around 100,000 teaching and support staff and thus contributed in employment generation on large scale.
Increasing literacy rate is the most effective instrument to actualize social uplift of underprivileged segment of Punjab's population. Around 70 % of PEF schools exist in 11 districts of southern Punjab which are low on entire range of human development social indicators. Southern Punjab therefore is center of PEF's education promoting efforts and reflects its priority for uplifting deprived and left out areas.
PEF schools enroll students in primary, elementary and secondary level of schooling thus making up for any access gap left by government schools on one hand and elite private institutions with hefty tuition fees on the other. The good thing is that 45% of the beneficiaries of PEF subsidy are girls and PEF is making concerted efforts to increase this number. PEF also strives to promote inclusive education for differently abled students in its partner schools.
Punjab Education Foundation is utilizing state of the art Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) to maintain transparency and efficiency. Banking on this strength, PEF has made strides in establishing a unique ID for each student in shape of B-form and is maintaining all necessary data of a student on its SIS portal. Use of IT and progressive automation of its operations are key to disburse government subsidy in equitable and efficient manner to the intended population. PEF was able to get B forms of more than 21 million of its students verified from NADRA in Oct this year. However more than 4 lac students are still to get verified as their data correction is being made. Soon this lot will also go through NADRA screening and make PEF first organization in education sector to have 100% verified student base.
PEF in the meanwhile is also undergoing a restructuring Process. Strengthening its operations and organizational structure in southern Punjab is high priority of this management and fresh human resource is going to be inducted at different levels, both horizontal and vertical, to improve efficiency and outreach of this organization. PEF will particularly focus on upgradation of its Monitoring, Information Technology and legal wings to ensure optimum and transparent spending of Public money.
PEF has a vision of expanding the scale of this mutually beneficial public private partnership. Its expansion can boost education indicators in Punjab at a much lower cost to the government exchequer. Some studies have already shown that in this model a student at primary level costs around Rs. 700 in comparison to Rs. 1600 that government spends on a child in a government school.
In fact, Punjab Education Foundation has benefited the overall school education sector in a number of ways. It has strengthened the low-cost private schools with its support and technical assistance. After their partnership with the foundation, the schools not only get financial support on per student basis but their teaching staff is also trained in latest educational concepts so that the students could get quality education. PEF also encourages co-curricular and sports activities in these schools to complement physical and psychological growth of students enrolled in these schools.
PEF is also focusing on quality of education and looking for ways to further improve its Quality Assurance Test and devise other techniques to induce quality teaching and enhance student learning experiences in PEF schools. To achieve this objective PEF aims to launch teacher mentoring and training programs on a much larger scale and will use distant learning techniques in case COVID restrictions persist. New management of PEF is also considering incentivizing high performing schools to act as model schools at district level and to encourage a healthy competition among PEF schools for performance and quality education.
In the end, I reaffirm my strong commitment to help the deserving children to access to their basic right of education. In this endeavor, the support of the Punjab Government is highly commendable.