GPE: Attempting to Transform Primary Education in Balochistan

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Global Partnership for Education – Balochistan Education Project (GPE-BEP) is attempting to transform Primary education in the backward province of Balochistan.
GPE is a World Bank backed initiative which supports 61 developing countries in their aim to provide quality basic education to each and every child.
In Balochistan, Education department is implementing the project for duration of three years, which started from 1st July 2015. Total budget for the project is 34 million dollars in Balochistan.
GPE is forerunner of Promoting Girls Education in Balochistan (PGEB) which was also a World Bank supported program to promote Girls Education in Balochistan. On 1st July 2015, all the assets of PGEB were transferred to GPE project.

Goals of GPE in Balochistan are to increase school enrollment and retention in project supported schools, with a special focus on girls’ participation

Goals of GPE in Balochistan are to increase school enrollment and retention in project supported schools, with a special focus on girls’ participation, and to develop mechanisms to improve quality of school management.
What GPE would do
GPE would establish 725 Primary schools all over Balochistan. Initial cost of establishing of per primary school will be 1.5 million rupees.
Sites for these schools will be chosen based on criteria which include measuring the distance of nearby schools and the number of students in the area.
Community files application for school, which is verified by a third party, such as UNICEF, with GPS coordinates of each school and then it is physically verified by Education managers at district level, accompanied by GPE staff.
Local Education Group Meeting
Local Education Group Meeting
Balochistan government has reached an agreement with World Bank that only GPE would establish new Primary schools in province.

Balochistan government has reached an agreement with World Bank that only GPE would establish new Primary schools in province

All of these primary schools would have a science and math teacher; there will be a mini playground and space center in all of those schools.
Apart from that GPE would also Upgrade 95 primary schools to middle schools and 25 middle schools to High schools which would cost 8 million and 16 million rupees per school respectively.
In first phase, GPE plans to establish 37 primary schools which would be completed by December this year. These schools would be established in 30 district headquarters, 6 divisional headquarters and in Quetta.
GPE works closely with schools and education department in all districts of Balochistan. In order to ensure smooth functioning of GPE operations, District Focal Persons (DFPs) have been appointed in all districts of Balochistan.
Transparency
Balochistan is considered a den of corruption where embezzlement of funds in government projects is rampant. In order to ensure financial transparency GPE has made certain arrangements to ensure transparency.
GPE is audited by Ernst and Young (E&Y) which is one of the most famous and credible auditing firms in the world. GPE has developed objective selection criteria for selection of Schools, third party selection, procurement and recruitment of staff.
GPE is trying to ensure transparency in the recumbent of female teachers for its 725 primary schools. It has decided to conduct the recruitment tests through National Testing Service (NTS) which is believed to be fairly transparent.
GPE has an independent procurement committee which approves all the decisions about procurement.
Read also: Education Enrollment Campaign Launched in Balochistan
GPE has also contributed in the ongoing education enrollment campaign of Balochistan government. It has donated 4,000 schools bags and also arranged events for enrollment campaigns in winter zone areas of Balochistan.
Project Director
Asfandyar Khan, a Balochistan Civil Service (BCS) officer and a
GPE Asfand
Asfandyar Khan
graduate of Kings College London in Education Management is Project Director since the inception of GPE in July 2015.
Talking exclusively to Balochistan Voices, Mr. Asfandyar Khan said that focus of GPE is on fulfilling the basic requirements of primary education and not to establish luxurious schools.
“GPE-BEP is designed, keeping in view the needs of education sector in the province. The thematic areas of Balochistan Education Sector Plan (2015-18) are duly covered under the project, which are Access, Equity, Quality and Increased accountability,” said Mr. Khan.
Project Director argues that in GEP Focus is laid on strengthening the basis of the project, by developing robust and transparent processes including hiring of best professionals through merit based recruitment process under World Bank umbrella.
Mr. Khan claims that GPE project has more than 8 foreign qualified managers and professionals, including a Chartered Accountant and IT Professionals.
“I am very hopeful that the [GPE] project will be a success as it is working in close coordination with Education Department, Communities, Education managers, coupled with application of latest tools and technologies,” Mr. Khan told Balochistan Voices while expressing his optimism for success of the project.

Any endeavor by Government is not successful unless media and civil society play a positive role towards achieving its objectives – Asfandyar Khan

Project Director urged media and civil society to help GPE in successfully achieving its goals. “The role of civil society and media is very significant as any endeavor by Government is not successful unless media and civil society play a positive role towards achieving its objectives,” he contended.
Controversy
Last month, a political party and a sitting minister blamed GPE administration for favoritism and ethnic discrimination.
A study of the recruitment system and the procedures of school selection procedures, by this scribe, prove that there is no weight in the allegations made against GPE.
In current age of Social Media activism it’s not possible for GPE and any other project to get away with any form of irregularities.
Facing and dealing with political pressure in government projects has become a norm in Balochistan which is negatively affecting the performance of the projects and discouraging the honest and hard working officers.
Bottom line
GPE can be a game change for primary education in Balochistan, provided that if it’s free from political pressure and interference from government functionaries.
Project Director of GPE, Mr. Asfandyar Khan believes that GPE is a gateway for foreign funded development projects in future for Balochistan.

GPE can be a game change for primary education in Balochistan, provided that if it’s free from political pressure and interference from government functionaries

“Success of GPE project would result in more world bank development projects for Balochistan,” he claimed.
All those who have interest in future generations of Balochistan need to support GPE and assist them in transforming the primary education in Balochistan.
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Adnan Aamir is founder and Editor of Balochistan Voices. He also contributes for The News, The News on Sunday and Newsline Magazine amongst others as a freelancer. He has completed Chevening South Asian Journalism fellowship from the University of Westminster.