KARACHI - Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that he is planning to undertake a massive rehabilitation and expansion of high enrollment schools, for the purpose a portfolio of 4,650 schools have been selected to overhaul infrastructure; provide missing facilities so that these schools can house a larger cohort of students.

This he said while talking to a World Bank delegation led by its Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan who met him here to discuss the conclusion of Sindh Education reforms Programme launched in 2014-18 on Monday.

He said: “Today, we are in the era of a fourth industrial revolution, many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries and are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from job displacement, from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps.”

“To prevent a worst-case scenario — technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality— reskilling and upskilling of today’s workers will be critical,” he said and added “at the government level, technology could be continuously leveraged to upskill and reskill employees.

“As I took office, I declared an education emergency,” he said and added his government is taking tough actions to improve education sector through a three -pronged strategy: They are: addressing education access and infrastructure gaps by improving financial allocations; addressing quality of education by improving human resource in schools by competitive test-based recruitment of teachers and head masters and regularly assessing children’s learning outcomes.

Murad Ali Shah said that he was planning to undertake a massive “Rehabilitation and Expansion of High Enrolment Schools”. “A portfolio of 4650 schools have been selected to over haul infrastructure; provide missing facilities so that these schools can house a larger cohort of students,” he said and added that  the plan is to equip them with quality teachers; head teachers and provide them required facilities.

Another 554 schools have been selected for upgradation into elementary level again on the basis of a strict criteria. “We are increasingly focusing on a strategy whereby we can ensure progression of students beyond Grade 5 and ensure secondary education,” he said and added “We plan to adequately equip all post primary schools with Science labs and ICT labs to bring in facilities which can gradually help us strengthen students learning outcomes.”

Murad Ali Sha said that we still have huge challenges with a large number of out of schoolchildren and unemployed youth. “It is very important for government, development partners and civil society to synergize resources and efforts to tackle this challenge,” he said and thanked the World Bank for their financial and technical support in the Education and Skills sector.

Talking about early childhood, he said: “We have recently finalised a mega intervention with the assistance of the Bank, ‘The Sindh Nutrition Programme’ that involves multi sectoral interventions to improve nutrition levels in mothers and children and to gradually contain stunting.”

The chief minister said that on the education side, “we have finalised an ‘Early Childhood’ policy which first of all recognises and enrolls students in KG grades and the EC curriculum is also under finalisation.

He said that the disadvantaged and marginalised segments of society in Sindh owe a great responsibility to all of us, “the availability of food, access to nutrient food is substantially unaffordable to this segment of society,” he said and added “with collective efforts, we can turn the tide and achieve this most needed and loftiest of cause,” he said.

Talking about girls education, he said: “We fully realise the critical importance of educating the girls. We understand that girls’ education would provide many benefits in terms of overall socio- economic development of the country. It helps in raising per capita income and it helps raise family incomes and wellbeing as girls become equipped to enter the job market.

The chief minister also said that presently 14 schools have been outsourced. Their operation is being made by partners while the provincial government bears all expenditures, including salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, electricity bills, maintenance etc. He added that 200 more schools to be given under private management.

The World Bank Country director appreciated the efforts of the chief minister and lauded his initiative of operating schools under PPP mode. He assured the chief minister of his full support for the purpose.