In December 2010, the Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan) approved a Roadmap to improve schools in the Province. The objective of the Roadmap was to get more children into school and to improve quality and learning for children in school.
Since implementation began in early 2011 the Roadmap has produced impressive results. These include:
- An increase of 1.5 million in the number of children in school
- An increase in student attendance from 83% to 92%
- A fall in teacher absenteeism from 19% to 9%
- Improvement in the provision of basic facilities (drinking water, electricity, toilets and boundary walls) from 69% to 92%
- An increase in the proportion of schools visited each month by officials to 96%
- A reduction in gender gaps on all five indicators (student enrolment, student attendance, school facilities, teacher presence, administrator visits)
- Development of a new teacher evaluation and mentoring approach and rollout to 200,000 teachers in thirty-four districts
- Development of new textbooks for the primary curriculum
Five factors contributed to the success of the Roadmap.
At the start of the Roadmap Punjab had a good sector plan, but the number of priorities in the plan far exceeded the Government’s capacity for implementation. As a result, nobody believed in the plan, and to the extent to which officials tried to implement it, they were overwhelmed by its scope. The first step in the Roadmap was to identify an ambitious but achievable set of priorities for the system to focus on. These were then reflected in clear targets for the province and each district each quarter. Once identified, the priorities were defended at all times to ensure that new priorities were not added (a constant stream of well-meaning people continuously insisted that the Government should be doing more, rather than insisting that it focused on implementing what it had already committed to). Only as the capacity of the Government to implement increased was the number of priorities expanded.
2. The involvement of the Chief Minister
Punjab had a strong and capable Chief Minister who was committed to education. However, he had not been able to engage with the sector in a consistent and effective way. A routine of stocktakes was established where the Chief Minister reviewed progress against the priorities every two months. An independent team presented an assessment of progress on each individual item, highlighting both the good and the bad. The stocktakes became both a device for accountability and a forum for resolving problems and obstacles which emerged. They helped keep everyone focused on driving the system forward, and ensured that people got the help they needed when hit obstacles.
3. A delivery team on the ground
A small independent team was staffed full-time alongside the government officials to help them get things done. The team helped them plan, think through actions, use data, conduct analysis, and communicate more effectively. It worked relentlessly on building the capacity of key officials throughout the system. It got out into the field with officials to help them understand what was working, and provided an independent perspective when required. It provided the support which officials needed to implement change.
4. Good information on progress
The Province strengthened its data systems so that it had good information on how the system was performing. Where data was missing, new monitoring systems were introduced, including a six-monthly household survey to track the number of out-of-school children and an independent learning assessment. Data from these systems was fed up to policymakers and the Chief Minister. It was also presented back to individual districts in the form of detailed colour-coded data packs which helped them plan improvements and take action in their regions.
5. Capacity building throughout the system
Throughout the Roadmap, officials and the Delivery team worked to uncover good practice in the system or better ways of working. As these were discovered – sometimes through pilots but more often by codifying good practice in the best schools and districts – they were quickly disseminated through the system. This continuous capacity building gradually built up the capacity of the system to deliver.