Initiating a scheme is easy; implementation and then continuing it is the tricky part. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s failure to keep supporting the poor out of school children under Farogh-e-Taleem Voucher Scheme is testimony to what’s said earlier. The latest news suggests that the out of the 79, 0000 out of school children that were enrolled under the said scheme, only 34,000 are currently in school. More than half of the initially enrolled students have already stopped pursuing education. And the reason for such a drastic reduction in dropping out is the failure of the Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation’s inability to pay their monthly fees. This is a sorry state of affairs.

It was not the shortage of funds with the foundation, as the foundation has surrendered around Rs 3 billion to finance department during the last two financial years. The foundation administration’s decision to not release the funds due to the ongoing inquiries into irregularities in the voucher scheme was the main reason that the whole exercise is compromised. But why did the provincial government not take notice of this before? It will be hard to regain the trust of private schools. Even if the new administration of the foundation tries to take different associations of private schools into confidence, the owners will think twice before committing to the government.

What is frustrating is the fact that despite all efforts of the state and international partners, the education sector is not showing any improvements. According to Unicef Pakistan, the country has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. Only last year, a survey conducted in the KP revealed that over 1.8 million children in the province were out of school.

All other obstacles, coupled with the government’s inefficiency, are suggesting that the initiative of enrolling the out of school kids has proved another waste of resources. While the foundation is confident to mitigate the damage, the provincial government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) needs to devise a comprehensive strategy to avoid such failures in future. It is worth recalling here that the PTI government made tall claims regarding bringing reforms in the education sector in the province. It is the irony of all ironies to see PTI failing on delivering in the KP’s education sector.