UNDP policy magazine launched

LAHORE: The UNDP Pakistan launched the second edition of its quarterly policy magazine, Development Advocate Pakistan, on the theme ‘Making Education Work: The Governance Conundrum’ during a ceremony at the Forman Christian College (FCC) on Thursday.
The edition features a combination of analysis and public opinion articles by well-known education experts, including Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Associate Professor Dr Faisal Bari and Alif Ailaan Campaign Director Mosharraf Zaidi. Provincial government and youth perspectives are also included in interviews and stakeholder opinions.
Themes discussed include issues of governance in public education, the private education sector, politicisation of education as a reform catalyst and the role of communities in public education. 
It also provides a platform for the exchange of ideas on key development issues and challenges in Pakistan. It fosters public discourse and presents varying perspectives from civil society, academia, government and development partners with an explicit effort to include the voices of women in youth in the ongoing dialogue.
According to the magazine, political context of education plays a crucial role in determining whether or not any plans or strategies can or will be implemented. Indeed some of the most innovative educations interventions in the world stemmed from the special interest of political elite. Sustainable improvement in the education will remain a distant dream unless the people demand, and the politicians deliver.
Addressing the ceremony, UNDP Country Director Marc-André Franche said: “It is important to discuss the capacity issues of service providers unable to spend allocated resources. It is equally critical to analyse the process through which resources are allocated and the time it takes to release them to end users.” 
Tracking expenditure was essential, but ensuring responsible spending was also important, he said, adding that some of the most innovative education interventions in the world stemmed from special interest of political elite. Sustainable improvement in education will remain a distant dream unless the people demand, and the politicians deliver, he concluded.
This was followed by a panel discussion among a group of education experts, including Punjab School Education Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, Graduate Institute of Development Studies Professor Dr Fareeha Zafar, Dr Faisal Bari and Mosharraf Zaidi, which was moderated by television broadcaster and policy specialist Mahreen Khan.
The discussion centred on major governance issues in public education and how a regulated private education sector could play a role in addressing national education concerns.
Dr Faisal Bari said that unfortunately, quality of education was the most neglected part of our system. He also said that most provincial governments were still using “ access first” arguments. However, he added, access and quality were integrally linked with each other.
Dr Fareeha Zafar said that we were unable to decide our medium of instruction. 
She also said that recently Punjab had introduced English as medium of instruction in primary schools but unfortunately, we did not have trained teachers of English at primary level.
Mosharaf Zaidi said that theory of change for education must come from politicians. Any potential for meaningful change in education was limited without politicians being the stewards and guardians of the agenda, he added.

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