School Based Governance-Management

Financial, Budgetary & Administrative Reforms

(NWFP's Perspective)

By Saif ur Rehman Usmani  

School Based Governance/Management (SBM) aims to devolve more responsibilities to schools and provide them with enhanced flexibility and autonomy in managing their own operation and resources and planning for school development, with increased accountability at the same time. Through SBM, schools will develop a management system to ensure the quality of learning and teaching. Hence, SBM is a management framework which is school-based, student-centered and quality-focused.

2. The underlying principles of SBM are two-fold. Firstly, SBM seeks to provide schools with enhanced flexibility and autonomy in managing their own operation and resources according to the needs of their students. Secondly, it seeks to enhance the transparency and accountability in the use of public funds and school operations by providing a participatory decision-making mechanism where all key stakeholders are involved.

3. Population living below poverty line in NWFP is about 46.3% against the country average of 37.3%. Male enrollment in schools is about 62% whereas male literacy rate is about 57%. Female enrollment is about 39% whereas female literacy is about 20% only. In some districts (Kohistan, Tank, Battagram and Upper Dir ) female literacy is less than 3%. Enrollment in the public sector primary schools is 12% of the population (7% & 5% for male & female respectively). Primary school enrollment is 32 children per square kilometer (19 & 13 male & female respectively).

4. Parents Teacher Associations (PTAs) have been established in almost all schools. The system is yet to get foot-hold in the rigid socio-cultural environment. In some districts the funds channeled through PTAs are mis-used, especially primary level, where the land donors/ Chowkidars, become chairmen of the PTAs and misappropriates the PTA funds (in the remote districts of Kohistan, Battagram, Upper Dir , Tank, DI Khan and Bannu). However the situation is quite encouraging in many districts. In Peshawar , Mardan, Kohat and some districts of Malakand and Hazara Divisions, the chairmen are formally elected and the PTAs are quite effective in school management. Reforms are required in the structure, formulation process, working & composition of PTAs. The format is being revised and composition broadened, by including parents (excluding land donors/Chowkidars), elected representatives/Union Nazims, Pesh-Imams and increase in number of teachers. The school budget is considered to be increased commensurate with genuine needs and should be utilized entirely through PTAs; setting priorities for individual schools and should be exempted from pre-audit.

5. Under the LGO 2001, Education is the devolved function to districts. But in NWFP salary budget and block provision of budget for centralized purchase of major items like furniture, laboratory equipment, jute tats etc; is in the control of Provincial Government, which is about 99% of the total allocation for education sector. The non-salary budget provided to education sector through district governments is less than 1% of the total budget. Theoretically the district governments are independent in their decisions. But the Provincial Government has control over financial resources, postings and transfers (especially officers), appointments (officers), promotions, inter-district transfers, annual development programme etc. Political interference is quite high and all policy decisions are taken at provincial level.

6. As the quality of school education has direct impacts on students' learning outcomes, the quid-pro-quo to additional autonomy is that schools have to be more transparent in their operations and accountable to the community for their performance and the proper use of funds. Hence the government supports a participatory governance framework involving principals, teachers, parents, alumni and independent community members. The direct participation of these key stakeholders in school decision-making would be proponent to enhance the transparency and accountability of the school governance and the key stakeholders can contribute their views and expertise for the betterment of the school. SBM leads to;

•  Change in school working culture,

•  Classroom practices,

•  Student achievements,

•  Sense of responsibility & accountability,

•  Stronger professional community,

•  Increased learning.

7. Political interference, polarization between provincial and district governments, resource constraints, corruption, weak monitoring system, politically motivated postings against administrative positions, lack of accountability, non-merit based induction, lack of continuous capacity building, lack of scientific human resource management, rigid staffing patterns, rigid resources allocation patterns, lack of administrative & financial skills, joint administrative & teaching cadres, complex accounting and audit procedures, weak examination system, vulnerable to unfair means, illiterate parents, wide ranging poverty are some of the key factors affecting the education system in the Province in general and quality of education in particular.

8. Presently schools management (principal/head teachers) and staff are subjected to many rival factors. Teachers have no say in the school's administrative & financial affairs. Nominal funds are provided through PTA. The rest is centralized. Teachers are not getting any budget for traveling allowance & medical charges. No other incentive. Resultantly they adopt other unfair means, by joining the so called teachers' associations, examination duties & private tuitions etc. Nominal funds are provided for operational budget of a school. The financial and management control is supra centric under the district offices. Teachers suffer at the hands of clerical staff in the district offices. They can't clear their bills without paying many visits to the district and accounts offices. The audit department is a nightmare for teachers. They pay several visits to these offices for their pay fixation in case of revision or change in their salary. They work in un-conducive working environment.

9. The Local Government system is still passing through transitory phase. Its future is not guaranteed. Several amendments have been made and many are being made in the LGO, skewed in favor of Provincial Government and centralization. Bureaucracy is not in total support of the new system. The financial system has been disintegrated due to the devolution of power; resulted in drastic cut on the current budget of the devolved departments. All the 24 district governments are getting Rs. 1600 million (3.13% of the total current budget) for non-salary requirements of all the devolved departments during the CFY 2005-06. Obviously fewer resources are available to the departments and education becomes the last priority while allocating resources to departments at district level. During a recent survey it has been observed that nominal funds are provided for POL and repair of vehicles and hence field inspections by the district staff have been virtually stopped.

10. NWFP has peculiar administrative setup. The tribal area stretches all along the western boarder of the Province. The government employees are transferable between FATA and settled area. There are six Frontier Regions (Federal funded & governed under FCR) attached with six districts. Provincial Government is not comfortable with the local government system. Family planning and female education are hindered due to socio-cultural limitations and opposed by the religious circles.

11. The PTAs established in the schools are confronted with plethora of problems. Nominal amount of funds is provided through the PTAs, subjected to stringent pre-audit procedures and policing through various anti corruption agencies. Funds are provided at uniform rate on per room basis, irrespective of enrollment, in the schools. High Schools are getting Rs. 350 per class room vis-à-vis Rs. 1750 per room by primary schools. In some remote districts, the Chowkidars and their relatives are misusing the PTA funds. Funds are usually released in June, which aught to be utilized under a tight schedule, prone to audit mishaps. The funds could be used for specific prescribed items, contrary to local priorities/rigid choice of utilization. There is lack of capacity about financial and accounts matters. In some districts, fake enrollment is reported for getting PTA funds and teachers' salary. The monitoring system is very weak.

12. The present centralized system of procurement is responsible for unwarranted delays in provision of necessary school requirements. Like the furniture purchased from Pak German Peshawar has not been delivered to date despite advance payment one year back. ESR funds are lapsed in majority of districts due to delay in releases and fulfillment of codal formalities, involved in its utilization. In some cases text books have not been provided in sufficient number. Substitute of teachers is not provided on time after their retirement. There is no automatic system for replacement of about 3000-3500 core teaching staff pulled out of the system every year due to retirement. Facility specific sanction of posts puts a bar on the adjustment of teachers on need basis. Teachers are posted against irrelevant positions, creating practical impediments in teaching of some subjects.

13. Implementation of SBM, includes the streamlining of administrative procedures and the devolution of more responsibilities to schools in personnel management, financial matters and the design and delivery of curriculum. All these measures are to create more room for schools to develop quality education with their own characteristics and provide schools with more flexibility in the use of public funds. SBM have the best information about resource availability, financial & human resource management, and teachers & students management. SBM is;

•  More democratic,

•  More relevant,

•  Less bureaucratic,

•  Stronger in accountability,

•  Effective in resource mobilization

14. There are 25955 (84.16%) Government and 4884 (15.84%) Private Schools in NWFP. Gross enrollment in Government and Private Schools is 31,71,584 (78.65%) and 8,61,034 (21.35%) respectively. Working Teachers in the Government Schools are 1,03,361 (66.66%) and in Private Schools are 51,692 (33.34%). Total primary schools in the public & private sector are 22,024 (92.19%) and 1865 (7.81%) respectively. But enrolment in the 7.81% private primary schools is 20.74% of the total enrollment in primary schools, indicative of efficient utilization of resources, better quality and conducive working environment. Overall enrollment in the 15.84% private schools is 21.35% of the total enrollment. Enrollment in public sector primary, middle & high/higher secondary schools is 74%, 6% and 20% respectively. These schools are utilizing 51%, 15% & 35% of the education sector budget. Expenditure on primary, middle and high level education is Rs. 383,1149 & 815 per student per month respectively. It transcribes high rate of dropout at primary level and under-utilization of middle schools.

15. Total sanctioned strength of the Provincial Government during the current financial year 2005-06 is 288,209. Out of that 162,790 (56.48%) posts are in education sector (excluding technical, vocational and professional education). 99% of the staff is deployed in the districts/devolved departments and only 1% comprises provincial administration and elementary teachers training institutions called RITEs. Sanctioned strength of Primary School Teachers is about 67,455 (41.44%), Class-IV/menial staff is 38,739 (23.80%) and all other type of posts of teachers, professors, clerical & Laboratory staff are 56,596 (34.76%). The number of Working Teachers out of the total sanctioned strength is (103,361), which is indicative of large number of menial staff employed in the department (mostly Chowkidars and Naib Qasids) and other clerical staff and a lot of vacant positions at the given point of time.

16. Total budget allocated for education sector during CFY 2005-06 is about Rs. 21,677.061; Rs. 18,617.061 Million (85.88%) current and Rs. 3060 Million (14.12%) as development budget. The current budget allocation for education sector (inclusive of district level non salary) is about 36.47% of the total current budget of Rs. 51052.000 Million. The development budget is 21.64% of the Provincial Annual Development Programme. The district level development allocation for the sector is in addition to that. The average staff strength of educational institutions at the district level after devolution of power is about 76% of the collective staff strength of all other devolved departments. Salary & non salary budget allocation provided through provincial government is about Rs. 17,590.67 Million (97%) and 2.36% respectively. About 0.60% non salary budget is being provided through the 24 district governments. Annual non-salary allocation through district governments to primary, middle and high schools is Rs. 11, 53 & 53 per student respectively.

17. In the public sector schools, female functional schools are 8732 (33.64%), enrolment is 1027,378 (32.39%) and working teachers in the female schools are 33262 (30.90%). It means that the female educational institutions are short of the demand, under staffed and confronted with high dropouts.

18. The provincial government is spending about 36% of its current budget on education. But the non salary operational budget is just 2-3% (less than 1% provided through the district governments). For the first time Need Based Budget is being prepared for education sector. Special reforms are under consideration for strengthening the SBM, increase in non-salary operational budget and transfer of financial & administrative control to districts. Budgetary proposals/estimates have been incorporated in the EMIS Census Proforma. Training has been imparted to district management and Principals/Head Masters/Mistresses of 1549 high & high secondary schools. DDO wise/separate budget is being prepared for all high and higher secondary school for the FY-2006-07. The incremental form of budgeting is being replaced with Performance Based Budgeting (PBB) system. The system has been introduced in two pilot districts of Peshawar and Kohat during the CFY 2005-06. The system is being extended to 10 districts during the FY-2006-07. All high and higher secondary schools are being brought under PBB from 2006-07. Necessary spade work is in progress for the purpose. New Accounting Model (NAM) has been adopted for the salary budget during the CFY and being extended to districts/non-salary budget during the ensuing financial year 2006-07. Human Resource database has been established (first of its kind in the public sector in the country), which is being integrated with performance based budget & accounts systems. In due course lump sum (block grant) will be provided to schools for preparing their budgets according to their own priorities.

19. Schools & Literacy Department is actively working on a set of reforms in the financial & budget arena. The reforms are focused on increase in the need based operational budget, empowerment of PTAs/SBM, amendments in the rules governing financial utilization through PTAs, transfer of administrative and financial control to districts as per LGO, empowerment of SBM, transparency in use of funds, effective monitoring, improvement in quality of teaching and learning and character building. For the first time school/DDO wise budget is being prepared for all the 1549 male & female high & higher secondary schools for the ensuing financial year 2006-07. It will empower the schools and reduce their dependency on district/provincial offices. Reportedly government of Punjab is also working on the same lines as NWFP and has increased the budget of schools especially operational budget and has placed all the funds at the disposal of PTAs and has exempted PTAs from pre audit. NWFP is planning a step ahead by broadening composition of the PTAs, by making its operations more transparent, expanding scope of procurement through PTAs, allowing re-appropriations, exemption from sales and income taxes, devising a computerized monitoring and surveillance system. The World Bank has also included increase in the non-salary budget during 2006-07 as Trigger for DPC-II.

20. A mechanism is being devised, allowing schools to arrange substitutes of teachers teaching critical subjects at local level. The Principals are being empowered to make appointments against leave vacancies/vacancies arise due to retirement/transfer of teachers. The Principals would play the role of a leader, supportive and collegial for staff. Staff adjustment is being made flexible to address local needs. Capacity building would be a continuous process. The role of PITE and RITEs is being strengthened, the work load of district/sub divisional offices will be assessed in the post devolution scenario and positions rationalized as per requirements. Typical clerical positions will be exchanged with computer oriented clerical positions.

21. Through SBM, schools will have more autonomy and assume greater responsibility to develop an environment that facilitates continuous school improvement and put in place a self-evaluation mechanism to assure the quality of learning and teaching. SBM aims to enhance the standards of teaching and promote reforms in school-based curriculum so as to improve students' learning outcomes. The ultimate aim of SBM is to improve the standards of teaching and students' learning outcomes through the concerted efforts of the key stakeholders, the leadership and commitment of frontline educators and the support of the government. The implementation of SBM will enable the education system to cope with global developments, contribute to the personal growth of students, build a competent workforce to sustain the social, economic and cultural development and further enhance their competitiveness internationally.

22. The proposed composite set of reforms will empower the school management on the one hand, and bring the performance of the public sector schools network into lime light, realizing the political clout the consequences of their interference. The system will bring behavioral change towards public funds and sense of responsibility. SBM will link empowerment with responsibility and accountability as its by-product.

23. SBM involves certain risks and reservations. It increases the managerial role of principals' detriment to their role of pedagogical leaders. It is assumed that principals and teachers are always willing to undertake reforms. Principals/leaders should be supportive & collegial, willing to negotiate and bring all teachers on board. By putting the school budget in hands of community gains little sympathy among school staff. It can create conflicts between teachers and principals about use of funds and performance evaluation. It would be a difficult decision for political elements to reduce their interference. Inconsistency in policies, political instability, resource constraints, and weak managerial capacity are contra to the proposed system.

24. The gains from the system will offset the risks by bringing definite change in the deteriorating public sector education system. In long run the gains expected from the reforms are listed as follows:-

•  Improves administrative efficiency.

•  Shifts power from central office to school.

•  Introduces participatory decision making process.

•  Gives control over staffing, budget, curriculum & instructions.

•  Can tailor resources/decisions according to local needs.

•  Gives autonomy in staff selection & monitoring.

•  Improves planning, monitoring and communication.

•  Provides/develops leadership.

•  Improves the quality of teaching and learning.

•  Direct cause-and-effect relationship between self management & improved outcome.

•  Changes the pedagogical practices, school calendar and daily timing, students discipline, teachers' incentives (career path),

•  Provides opportunity for assessment of results for improvement of quality.

•  Change in the role of a Principal from a supervisor to a colleague.

•  Provides positive/conducive working conditions.

•  Provides for pre & in-service training & capacity building.

•  Supports innovation and initiatives.

•  Accountability.

•  Helps in identifying strengths, weaknesses & priorities.

•  Gives school community a voice in decision making.

•  Changes the Political mind set.

•  Redirects resources to support goals.

•  Leads towards performance based budgeting.