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DFID-funded study launched

AFP

Islamabad: DFID funded, Ilm Ideas Programme launched a study on Access to Finance (A2F) for Low Cost Private Schools (LCPS) in partnership with Pakistan Microfinance Network.  Participants included donors, public and private sectors organizations from the education and finance sectors, school administrators and education service providers. Market leaders and panelists included representatives of Punjab Education Foundation, Education Foundation for Sindh, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, State Bank Pakistan, Khushali Bank, Kashf Foundation and First Microfinance Bank.   Panelists presented their views on exploring the full potential of the low cost private school sector with a view to enhancing access to credit and investment in quality solutions to improve operations, governance and overall quality of services the LCPS sector provides.
The A2F for LCPS report narrates that Pakistan’s education industry provides a classic impact investment opportunity for private sector finance. Until now, the public sector has been playing a dominant role in the education industry. 
However, with increasing fiscal pressures, growing un-met demand for education, weak management of the public education system, and poor quality perception of the public schools there is a structural gap on the supply side. 
Moreover, given the scale the large number of out of school children and poor performance on international education indicators, there is a strong case for private sector intervention at the service delivery level either under a public-private partnership framework and/or on its own.
Richard Montgomery, Head of the UK’s Department for International Development in Pakistan, stated: “This innovative initiative will potentially help low cost private schools to access finance for the first time, which could enable them to invest in improving the quality of the education they provide, and expand access so that even more children can go to school. Given that Pakistan’s population of 185 million will mushroom by half again within the next 40 years, innovative ideas like this will help ensure the burgeoning youth population is well educated and able to bring prosperity and stability to the country”. 
The number of private schools in Pakistan has multiplied to almost three fold – at a much faster rate than the number of public sector schools. Most of this growth has been within low cost private schools which now account for about one third of school enrolment in Pakistan.
The study on ‘A2F for LCPS’ reports that there are currently over 69,000 low cost private schools in the country and is emerging as a key ancillary tool for improving enrolment rates and the quality of schooling in Pakistan.
Ross Ferguson, Private Sector Development Advisor at UK’s Department for International Development stated that “We estimate that the LCPS sector needs over Rs 100bn to fund existing expansion plans to support access to finance linked to investment in quality which can help raise both enrolment and learning outcomes. To achieve this education and the finance sectors must work together and DFID is ready to support these partnerships.

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