NCHD at the verge of closure, Future of 16000 employees uncertain
June 17, 2011
After the passage of 18th amendment, the education was made provincial subject. It seems that while taking decision to hand over education sector to provinces the pros and cons were not contemplated. The concerned authorities failed to address issues at micro level before taking the decision.
The education has been the most neglected sector in Pakistan throughout its history. Successive governments instead of giving priority to education have taken steps which resulted in further deterioration of this vital sector.
At first the issue of Higher Education Commission HEC surfaced which created much hue and cry both at local and international level. At present, though, the silence prevails at HEC arena but the issue remains unresolved, making the institution victim of 18th amendment.
Now the issue of National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) brewing as the provincial governments are reluctant to take this important institution in their ambit without funds. Resultant the fate of 16000 employees of NCHD working in 144 districts of Pakistan hangs in balance.
The much lauded achievements of NCHD is the enrollment of about 11.56 million out-of-school children age 5-7 years. Besides establishment of 13,068 community feeder schools to provide access and cater for increased enrolment, provided 4,719 feeder teachers in government schools, trained 146,225 government teachers on quality education. The efforts did not remain the child literacy the commission established and completed 145,411 adult literacy centers where 3.2 million learners were imparted functional literacy. About 95 percent were females.
The impact of the decision to hand over the commission to provinces and provincial governments’ refusal to take this institution will be worst as it will deprive millions of children in under privileged areas of Pakistan from their schools and millions of adults to be literate through functional literacy program.
NCHD is by far the biggest asset of Pakistan since 2002. Its 438,000 well trained Volunteer force has twice proven life saving in the 2005 earthquake and 2010 flood disasters in addition to education support in the villages. NCHD and its massive work has been invisible to the city people and Pakistan's lawmakers because NCHD only works in remote villages where media never goes.
Apart from education, the commission is also active in the area of health and so far 179,909 children have been monitored for growth. About 13.77 million women were trained in the preparation of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in 80 districts, 470,867 women have been vaccinated for their reproductive health. More than 77 percent women and 51 percent men in the target areas have been provided health education to prevent common ailments.
Corruption is widespread in Pakistan and the education sector is also infected with this most deadly virus. The large amount of public money goes to the ghost schools which exist only in files but money goes to the teachers. On the priority list of the successive governments the education still remains least important while making budgets. In a country where number of fake degree holders have secured place in the power corridors and are making laws one should not be surprised if the education gets least importance.
In NCHD case, the federal government wants the provinces to decide about supporting or closing NCHD programs. The provinces are willing to keep the NCHD programs if the federal government gives them funds.
Though the efforts are underway to save NCHD from annihilation at home and abroad. However, the president Asif Ali Zardari being the patron in chief of the NCHD can play vital role in saving the commission, especially at a time when country is plagued with terrorism and education seems the only way out.