Sunday, October 3, 2010

Improving Governance; the easy targets in Education and Health sectors

There are two areas where governance has been quite lacking in Pakistan during all regimes,military or dictatorial.These are Education and Health.As for Musharraf regime , it had a lopsided attention in education,as indicated by an abrupt increase of Higher Education budget by a factor of 10.This was done to the detriment of primary and secondary education , which is directly related to the poor.This confirmed his penchant for elitist model of development.

Generally education and health has received scant attention as measured by a persistent historical trend of under-investment in education and health.After floods,any scope for improvement in this respect may not be possible.However,what would be definitely feasible and required would be to utilize the money that is already being spent more efficiently.Reportedly there are many ghost schools,teachers,doctors,heath clinics and facilities.These people and facilities draw salaries and budgets ,but remain at home or keep themselves busy elsewhere.These people are often powerful or pay their way out by sharing their income and budgets with those whose job it is to control such criminal delinquencies.

This is at once easy and also difficult.It is certainly easy for those who are eager to show performance and improve governance.It should be the easiest task to do.And if one does that its impact on social and political environment would be tremendous.When children would be going to schools and patients would start getting treatment from doctors and the health facilities.It is so easy and fruitful to improve performance when the existing status is too bad.It does not require programs and projects.It only requires attention and strictness.

If the relevant ministers simply make up their minds that ghost-ism has to go,it will go.Rigorous monitoring and punishment to the guilty if practiced persistently for a few years would definitely improve the situation.In this respect,the situation in Sindh is particularly alarming and much worse than it is in other provinces.Ironically,it is a common knowledge that the delinquents usually have political patronage.In that case,this would require personal attention and involvement at the highest level of the provincial and federal leadership.IF and when people see and hear involvement of top leadership in such campaigns , all impression and blame of mis-governance and non-governance would evaporate. I have mentioned elsewhere the relatively much higher success of ministers in India than has been the case here.The case of Lalloo Parasad is particularly revealing and encouraging.

And combined with this,if even modest efforts are made towards improving service quality, a lot of improvement can result.I do not mean elitist type of high quality.I mean only functional improvements.There is quite some oversight structure that already exists in case of education such as Community School Committees. These have to be revived and strengthened.In Health sector,such oversight committees may have to be introduced.

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