FOSIP-RSPN: Community Activism for Improved Access to Quality Education and Local Accountability (Article 25-A)

Funded by Foundation Open Society Institute – Pakistan (FOSIP), ‘Community Activism for Improved Access to Quality Education and Local Accountability’ is a 12-month initiative to empower communities to raise voices for improving access to quality education, accelerate the process of community led accountability for improvement in school conditions and learning outcomes, and support community actions for enrolment of out-of-school children. The project will focus on political advocacy as a tool to invoke accountability of the responsible in the education sector.

The project will be implemented in the districts of Bhawalpur and Rajanpur in Punjab, Jacobabad and Kashmore in Sindh, and Kohistan and Battagram in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through three implementing partners: National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Sindh Rural Support Organisation (SRSO) and Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP).

Rationale to kick start the initiative is the critical state of Pakistan’s education system that stands at a critical juncture with the Constitutional Decree of Article 25-A, which is challenged by the second highest population of out-of-school children i.e. 22.6 million (NEMIS 2015-16) in any country in the world. The constitution through Article 25-A obligates the state to provide free and compulsory quality education to all children between five to sixteen years of age. In addendum to its own Constitution, Pakistan being signatory to several international commitments and treaties to achieve global development targets under education is committed to provide inclusive and equitable quality education for all by the year 2030. The dismal state of education despite commitments needs a vibrant civil society and proactive right holders at the grassroots levels.

In the context explained above, RSPN started the project in July 2017. Three-tiered social mobilisation approach of the Rural Support Programmes (RSPs) – involving community institutions from the household to union council level (COs, VOs and LSOs) – would work for social accountability through establishing ‘Parent Ittehads’ at district level. These Ittehads would mainly work at two levels, a) they will take stock of the stakeholders i.e. grass tops to influence the education scenario of the identified supply side issues for improvement, and b) they will take stock of the education issues of the target union councils to develop ‘Charter of Demand’ (CoD). The CoD of each district will be developed on the basis of data collected by LSOs in their respective union councils. Media (print, electronic and social) will be engaged to highlight the identified issues. Text messages to the authorities especially District Education Officers, Deputy Commissioner Offices and relevant Parliamentarians to seek attention towards pressing education issues in the constituency will be the regular feature of the project.

The project will culminate at the presentation of consolidated data on school improvements, number of grass tops, that would have supported as friends of the campaign, engaged and improved child enrollment in the target districts to the larger audience in an event in Islamabad.

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