LAHORE - A large number of private sector parties have applied to the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) to take over the government owned schools across the Punjab province for educational purpose under Public-Private Partnership mode.

The applicants include Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), individuals and partners of PEF already running schools with the assistance of PEF in almost all districts of the province.

Meanwhile, Punjab School Education department has identified 1,000 schools from all over the province to hand over these institutions alongwith the buildings and other material to the private sector through PEF from the start of next academic session in April.

These schools are being transferred to the PEF as first batch of the main project of handing over total 3500 institutions in phases to the private sector. After successful results of this public-private partnership initiative, second batch will be handed over to PEF. School Education Department selected these schools on the basis of the poor results in class 5th examinations conducted by the Punjab Examination Commission during last two years.

Commenting on the matter, Secretary Education ( Schools ) Punjab Abdul Jabbar Shaheen stated here that government took this initiative for the sake of providing quality education to the children through the experience of public-private partnership. He said that these schools were showing poor performance upto 20 percent pass percentage since last several years and there was dire need to introduce major changes to positively explore the potential of the students. He said that most of the schools have been selected from the remote areas in southern Punjab and small towns.

To a question, he said that Punjab Government will ensure protection of the jobs of teachers and the subordinate staff deputed in schools while the property of the schools also would remain under the ownership of the Punjab government. To another question, Shaheen said that the staff of the school would be duty bound to work under the new private partner of the PEF however they could opt to be transferred any other place, he added.

The Secretary Education said that following the far sighted vision of the Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, no compromise would be made on the merit and quality of education.

According to the sources in PEF, Terms of References (TORs) have been issued for the guidence of investors and the selection would be made strictly on merit. PEF will utilize every possible resources to upgrade the standard of education in these schools, sources added.