KARACHI-The Sindh government signed on Wednesday an agreement with education management organisations (EMOs) to manage 71 schools, constructed under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Sindh Basic Education Programme (SBEP), for the next 10 years.

The ceremony took place at the Chief Minister House, and was attended by Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah, USAID mission director Julie Koenen and Sindh Education and Literacy Minister Saeed Ghani. The provincial education secretary, Ahmed Bakhsh Narejo and representatives from the two selected EMOs – Charter for Compassion (CFC) and Health and Nutrition Development Society (HANDS) – signed the agreements.

CFC and HANDS signed one and four agreements respectively. Under these agreements, both organisations would manage 71 government schools, including 25 newly constructed USAID schools, to improve the quality of education in four districts of Sindh – Dadu, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Karachi and Larkana.

The CM appreciated USAID-SBEP and the US government’s strong support in modernising education in the province.

He added that the Sindh government was a pioneer in launching public-private partnership reforms by outsourcing operations and the management of public sector schools to reputed EMOs for a period of 10 years under these agreements

“We are proud to partner with the Sindh government in this important initiative,” added Koenen. “The SBEP is improving the quality of teaching and increasing equitable access to safe learning opportunities for children, especially girls.”

Koenen emphasised the US government’s commitment towards supporting Pakistan’s efforts in education.

The US government is contributing $159.2 million through USAID, whereas the Sindh government is providing $10 million cost-share for the SBEP.

The project aims to increase and sustain student enrolment in primary, middle and secondary public schools in selected areas of Sindh, with a special focus on bringing back girls who have dropped out of schools.

In addition to constructing schools, the SBEP also supports the provincial government’s reforms in education, school consolidation, merging and upgrading, community mobilisation, public-private partnerships and improving reading competencies of students in schools.

The SBEP is constructing up to 106 modern school buildings in 10 districts – Dadu, Jacobabad, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Kashmore, Khairpur, Larkana and Sukkur, as well as Karachi’s West, Malir and South districts.

The CM added that 70 schools have been constructed under the programme so far, out of which 43 were previously handed over to seven EMOs. The construction of the remaining schools, meanwhile, is at various stages of completion.