Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah looks to be serious about education reform in his province, but with six million children out of school, it makes the provincial government look like it failed to do its job. Eight years of empty promises and bad governance have contributed to the crumbling infrastructural and socio-economic conditions prevailing in Sindh today, making it considerably difficult for the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) to ask for votes in the next election with their heads held high.

By the look of it at least, it seems that Sindh has moved slowly to embrace education reforms. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has consistently shown Sindh to have the worst school infrastructure, enrolment and retention rates and students’ learning outcomes compared to other provinces. However, in more recent times, the number of policy initiatives pursued by Sindh Education and Literacy department presents an optimistic picture. The provincial government has steadily increased allocation of funds to education in the last two fiscal years, but the real challenge still remains to utilise these funds to achieve tangible results.

A staggering Rs700 billion had been allocated for successive annual development programmes (ADPs) since 2008 when PPP assumed power in the province. It is safe to say that the management of Sindh’s public finances has improved significantly under PPP rule. It spends an average 25 percent of its revenue on development, yet, has not been able to improve any of its social indicators lagging far behind the rest of the country. So the question is, where does the money go? The politicians insist that Sindh’s peculiar demography, ensuing ethnic and rural, urban divide, and deep-seated culture of corruption and political schism are to blame. The practice of pointing fingers prevails instead of self-introspection, and this must change if Sindh has any hope of keeping up with the rest of the country.