LAHORE - The Punjab government has introduced far-reaching and sustained reforms in the school education sector; making it more competitive, efficient and result-oriented so that it could well-produce talented youth to ably deliver according to needs and requirements of the 21st century when ‘change’ is the only constant.

It has also provided ample funds to materialise these reforms in a timely manner as well as recruiting new teachers purely on merit.

Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) Chairman Engineer Qamar ul Islam Raja stated this while delivering a key-note address on policy dialogue about free and compulsory education act, 2014 at a local hotel on Wednesday.

The roundtable, organised by ActionAid, was attended by different NGOs representatives who presented their points of view on different aspects of education sector in Punjab.

Qamar ul Islam, who is also the chairman of Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, said the provincial government is fully committed to ensure hundred percent enrollment by 2018 so that Punjab could help accelerate national growth-rate through its educated workforce.

“Educational reforms will help our students to get quality education without being burdened. Punjab’s students will be able to explore new frontiers and avenues of opportunities in their practical life as education is the sustained foundation of every positive social change in human societies,” he added.

Raja further said the Punjab Education Foundation is in the process of opening 1500 plus new schools through private partners in 36 districts of the province during the current academic year alone. Out of it, one thousand schools will be of elementary level, he said.

Thus, thousands of deserving students will be able to enjoy free schooling in these PEF sponsored schools. This massive expansion plan will also promote girls’ education in different backward and remote areas where poor girls cannot go to afar schools on public transport due to many reasons, he added.

“Currently, girls are about half of the 1.6 million students enrolled in our four thousand partner schools. An educated girl is an asset who catalyzes positive change in the society and our reforms will ensure better future for our girls,” Raja maintained.

He further said that a colossal sum of Rs28 billion is being spent by the school education department in current budget alone, and this shows that Punjab government has granted sufficient funds for school education sector related interventions’ timely completion.

This budget is being transparently used to improve the overall structure of the schooling system as budget-utilisation ratio in Punjab is very good. It was 78 percent during the previous financial year, he pointed out.

He expressed the satisfaction that teachers attendance ratio has now reached to 93 percent which is the best according to world standards. The government has also introduced digital monitoring system to ensure efficiency and transparency in it.

The function was also addressed by MPA Lubna Faisal, Iftikhar Mubarak, Khaliq Shah, Syed Ali Imran and Action Aid’s program officer Irfan.