November 17, 2021
Mr. Dilawar Ali Mangi exchanging signed RD with Mr. Furuta Shigeki
Islamabad, 17 November 2021: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Ministry of Economic Affairs and Sindh School Education and Literacy Department (SELD) have signed a Record of Discussions (RD) on "Project for Gender Responsive Actions to Ensure Retention through Community Engagement and School Practices (GRACE)" at Economic Affairs Division. The RD was signed by Mr. Furuta Shigeki , Chief Representative, on behalf of JICA, Ms. Adeela Bukhari, Joint Secretary of Economic Affairs Division, and Mr. Dilawar Ali Mangi, Director General Planning, Development & Research, of Sindh School Education and Literacy Department.
The GRACE project has been designed to address the chronic issue of Out of School Children (OOSC). There are 22.8 million out-of-school children in Pakistan; the number is undoubtedly second highest in the world. The national survival rate to Grade 5 is just 67 %; whereas Sindh stands at 58 % (PSLM 2018-19).
Girl's education and particularly academic progression during the primary grades has been a challenge in Pakistan. While the enrollment rate during early grades holds a strong promise, the student retention and transition from primary to elementary grades presents a "picture of grave concern". Most girls begin to dropout from early grades owing to multiple factors. Some are unable to continue their education due to socio-cultural constraints; others give up on their basic right to education as they find themselves falling behind their peers in learning outcomes & assessments. Often it is simply the system's inability to recognize the "early dropout warning signs", & "lack of a response mechanism". Without addressing these issues, it is difficult for Pakistan to address the gigantic issue of OOSC and ensure student's learning continuity from primary through elementary education.
The Project will enable Government of Sindh to establish a gender responsive dropout prevention model through improved teachings learning practices in schools, community engagement and provision of missing/upgraded WASH facilities. The model will be piloted in 170-230 girls and co-education schools located in Sukkur, Khairpur Mirs and Karachi before its scale up and replication in the entrie Sindh. This is a four years duration project and is scheduled to commene from Feburary 2022.
While speaking on the ocassion JICA Chief Representative, Mr. Furuta acknowledged and appreciated the commitment and ownership of both Federal and Sindh Government to the projet and its design. He also expressed his commitment to continue to support the government in developing an effective school-community led OOSC prevention model through GRACE project activities in Sindh. Mr Furuta concluded his remarks with the hope that the GRACE gender responsive OOSC prevention model will also aid in improving the learning outcomes among girls particulary in science and mathmatics subjects even when they are taught in multigrade teaching school environments. Improved WASH facilities will also conntribute in girls retention and attendence in schools and provide them better health and hygiene learning environment.