New Partnership with Pakistan Act 2009 – An opportunity for educational institutions of Sindh to bring a positive revolution in Sindh
By Khalid Hashmani
The ENHANCED PARTNERSHIP WITH PAKISTAN ACT OF 2009 (Bill S. 1707) was passed by US Congress on October 1, 2009 and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. This legislation provides for $ 1.5 billion a year in US economic, social, and democratic development assistance to Pakistan for each of the next five years, starting 2010. The bill also authorizes military assistance in the context of counterinsurgency and counter terrorism efforts. Although the traditional exploiters of Pakistan have embarked on a mean-hearted campaign to secure changes that will enable them to control and siphon away much of the allocated assistance, the people of Pakistan, particularly the rural populations, have waited too long in the line as military consumes a major share of the country’s resources. Their undemocratic tactics to get changes in the Act to reduce monitoring and weaken the democratic rule will more than likely fail. However, if they once again succeed, the poor people of Pakistan would loose a great opportunity to alleviate poverty and improve health and education in rural areas.
Once signed by Obama, this Bill will become law and will provide assistance to strengthen areas such as Civil liberties, Human Rights, Political rights, Religious Tolerance, Rule of Law, Control of Corruption, Public Health, Girl’s Education, Public Education, and small Business Startup. A careful reading of this Act conveys that many of the targeted areas for assistance are consistent with Sindhi values and Sindhiat for human rights, religious tolerance, and non violence. In these economic tough times for the educational institutions of Sindh, this Act provides exciting opportunities for the universities and colleges of Sindh to play a vibrant and constructive role in bringing a positive revolution in Sindh, particularly in small cities, towns, and villages of Sindh.
With many international observers saying that rural Sindh is one of the Asia’s poorest areas having poor infrastructure, and falling education levels, it is imperative that the educational institutions of Sindh wake up and play their part in transformation of rural Sindh.
AKU-IED – A MODEL WORTH EMULATING BY OTHER UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES IN SINDH
The work done by the Institute of Education Development of Agha Khan University (AKU-IED) in implementing US supported several components of the US-funded Education School Assistance (ESRA) program has received immense praises from the officials of the US Aid and private organizations that administered that program. The examples of AKU-IED include “Certificate in Education: Primary Education (Mentoring Focus)” that was implemented in several districts of Sindh and Balochistan. Their “Outreach” programs including Professional Development Centers (PDCs) and Professional Networking Associations should serve as a model for other universities and colleges of Sindh.
The PDCs focus on professional development to serve as training and support facilities for teachers, school administrators, and education course developers. The PDCs support professional associations for teachers by organizing and contributing to workshops and seminars. They provide advice and consultancy services, work with schools, school systems and the Government to improve quality, curriculum development, follow-up support, research and evaluation. They conduct research in educational areas and provide advisory services.
The AKU-IED played a crucial role in the establishment of a Professional Teacher Associations Network. This network has nine volunteer organizations that focus and excel in different areas. These include the Mathematics Association of Pakistan, Science Association of Pakistan, School Head-teachers Association for Development of Education, Association of Primary Teachers, Health Education Association, Association for Promoting Ethics in Education, and Early Years Learning Association. These associations collaborate and through joint participation, work on cross-functional projects, organize seminars, workshops, conferences, short courses, and other such activities.
BROAD ASPECTS OF THE ENHANCED PARTNERSHIP WITH PAKISTAN ACT OF 2009
The broad principles for Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act 2009 are:
* To assist on many shared common goals including combating terrorism and violent radicalism, solidifying democracy and rule of law in Pakistan. The assistance is intended to supplement, not supplant, Pakistan’s own efforts in building a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan.
* To provide assistance throughout Pakistan without disproportionate focus on security-related assistance or one particular area or province.
* To support transparent judicial system, and working to extend the rule of law in all areas in Pakistan.
* To promote sustainable long-term development and infrastructure projects, including in healthcare, education, water management, and energy programs, in all areas of Pakistan.
* To ensure that all the people have access to public, modernized education and vocational training.
* To support the strengthening of core curricula and the quality of schools across Pakistan.
ACTIVITIES/PROJECTS SUPPORTED BY ACT
* Strengthen Pakistan’s Institutions (including the capacity of the National Parliament of Pakistan).
* Voter Education and Civil Society Training.
* Strengthen the capacity of the civilian governments.
* Training for police in respect for human rights, use of force, and community policing).
* An allocation of no less than $150 million for professionalization , training, and equipping the Police.
* Government transparency and criminalization of corruption.
* Strengthening of judicial system through training and capacity building in areas such as case management, etc.).
* Protection of women and girls, promotion of freedom of religion and religious tolerance, and protection of ethnic or religious minorities.
* Promotion of a responsible, capable, and independent media.
* Support sustainable economic growth, including in rural areas.
* Sustainable management of natural resources (through investments in water resource management systems).
* Expansion of agricultural and rural development (e.g. farm-to-market roads, systems to prevent spoilage and waste, and other small-scale infrastructure improvements) .
* Investments in energy, including energy generation
* Employment generation (through investment in infrastructure including roads, industry, aviation and support for small and medium enterprises) .
* Safeguarding rights of workers and local community stakeholders.
* Micro-finance for small business and income generation, particularly for women.
* Promoting modern, public primary and secondary education and vocational and technical training.
* Development of modern school curriculums for public, private, and religious schools.
* Support for the proper oversight of all educational institutions
* Enhance women/girl’ access to education, vocational and technical training with a special emphasis on helping girls stay in school.
* Increase women’s literacy.
* Construction and maintenance of libraries and public schools.
* Improving quality public health to eliminate diseases such as hepatitis and to reduce maternal and under-five mortality rates.
* Building capacity for NGOs and civil society organizations, particularly those with demonstrated experience in delivering services, particularly to women, children, and other vulnerable populations.
* Encouraging civil society, respected scholars, and other leaders to speak out against militancy and violence.
* Expand exchange activities under programs such as Fulbright, Youth Exchange and Study, and International Visitor Leadership.
SUMMARY OF OTHER MAJOR PROVISIONS OF ACT
1. The Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that will include the following:
* A general description of the specific programs, projects, and activities designed to achieve the purposes of Act.
* A plan for program monitoring, operations research, and impact evaluation research for assistance authorized under the Act.
* A description of the role to be played by Pakistani nationals including officials and civil society members in helping to strategize, identify and implement programs and projects.
* A description of the steps taken to ensure assistance is not awarded to individuals or entities affiliated with terrorist organizations.
* A list of persons or entities from the United States or other countries that have received funds in excess of $100,000.
* Any incidents or reports of waste, fraud, and abuse of expenditures.
2. APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES- Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the term `appropriate congressional committees’ means the Committees on Appropriations and Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committees on Appropriations and Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
3. Encourage the development of local analytical capacity to measure program effectiveness and progress, especially across the areas of United States assistance and payments to Pakistan, and increase accountability for how such assistance and payments are being spent.
4. Explore means to consult with and utilize the relevant expertise and skills of the Pakistani-American community.
STRATEGIES FOR UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGE OF SINDH TO SECURE ASSISTANCE
Most universities and colleges in Sindh can easily conduct preliminary investigation work and determine the feasibility of undertaking large and small projects that would be eligible to receive support under the new Act. They have sufficient number of talented pool of professors, scientists, researchers, students, and professionals to credibly plan, organize, and implement such programs. Their students provide valuable means of contacting local people in various cities, towns, and villages of Sindh and setting up local networks. The institutions such as Sindh University, Mehran University, ZABIST, Iqra, Liquat Medical University, Khairpur University, Business, Law Engineering, Medical, other colleges in various cities and localities of Sindh can and must play a vital role in bringing educational revolution in Sindh. Browsing through the web sites of some of these institutions shows availability of many assets, talent and expertise. For example, seven faculties and forty six departments of Sindh University cover practically all areas identified in the Act. Similarly, the expertise, talents, and interests of other universities and Engineering, Law, and Medical colleges together offer a formidable collection of resources in Sindh provided they are ready to extend their reach beyond their campuses and into communities and are given adequate funding.
OVERALL GOAL FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT OF SINDH
The overall goal of a comprehensive development of rural Sindh should be to achieve the following results for rural Sindh within the next ten (10) years:
* 100% of children between the ages of 6-10 years enrolled and receiving quality education in primary schools;
* 80% of children between the ages of 11 and 15 years enrolled and receiving quality education in secondary schools; and
* 70% of youth between ages of 16 and 18 redolent and receiving quality education in high schools.
* Establishment of a province-wide network of grassroots community organizations operating in all towns and villages of Sindh helping communities to implement development plans including building small connecting roads, running libraries, organizing inter and intra-community sports events, social networking and technical skill upgrade activities.
* Making basic health care/medical doctor available no more than two miles away.
SUGGESTIONS FOR INITIAL STRATEGY
1. Each Educational instruction in Sindh should create a Task Force with representation from key faculties and departments to carefully study the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 http://thomas. loc.gov/cgi- bin/query/ z?c111:S.1707: make a short list of areas on the basis of their strengths and interests.
2. The institutions should also research how other universities in Pakistan and other countries are helping their communities in improving education, health, judicial system, transparency, controlling corruption, democratic institutions, and police services. A quick review of the AKU-IED http://www.aku. edu/IED/ gives a good idea of similar programs.
3. The institutions should discuss the potential of collaboration with USA, UK, and/or Canadian universities and private sector companies if they already have cooperation agreements. They should identify areas where collaboration offers the best synergies.
4. The institutions contact Sindhi organizations in the USA such as Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), World Sindhi Congress (WSC), World Sindhi Institute (WSI), and Sindhi-American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) to determine feasibility of joint projects and/or obtain advice, skills and expertise of Sindhi-Americans or other Americans of Pakistani origin.
5. On the basis of these interactions and consultation, universities should create Project Charter documents for those projects for which either they alone or in collaboration with other educational institutions or private sector companies can undertake projects.
6. Channel the prepaed information to the US Aid authorities and/or private organizations that the US government may engage for the administration of Assistance or through appropriate federal and provincial ministries if required.
MATCHING PROJECTS WITH STRENGTHS
The university departments, colleges and institutes mut develop or help to develop awareness campaigns, training programs, workshops, seminars, networks, and primary school chains. The training could be conducted on university/college campuses or certain campaigns/seminars could travel to various cities, towns, and villages.
SUGGESTED AREAS FOR DEVELOPING TRAINING/WORKSHOPS/ SEMINARS
STARTING NEW PROGRAMS IN UNIVERSITIES
* Starting Aviation Programs with international grants
POLITICAL SCIENCE AND LAW DEPARTMENTS (for variety of audience – (e.g. elected officials active at federal, provincial, and local levels; political workers; and members of general public)
* Essence of Democratic Principles
* Meeting Expectations of Constituents
* Communicating with constituents and other members of public
* Pakistan Constitution
* Important federal and provincial laws
* Voter Rights
* Right use of exercise of Vote
* Women Rights
* Minority Rights
* Human Rights
* Roles and Responsibilities of Political Parties
* Curriculum Development
* Special Education
* Vocational Training
* Teacher Training
* School Infrastructure management
* School Administration
* School Budgeting
* School Management by School Management
* Seminars on Testing Techniques
* Seminars on destructive nature of copy culture
* Preparing students for international tests (e.g. SAT, TOFEL, etc.)
* Coaching and guidance classes for post-graduate education
* Home Economics
* Benefits of educating Girls
* Benefits of Literacy
LAW AND CRIMONOLOGY DEPARTMENTS
* Fundamental Principles of Rule of Law
* Transparency and Independence of Judiciary
* Controlling Corruption and Government Transience
* Protection of Women and Girls
* Community Policing
* Police training courses in Human Rights, use of Force, etc.
* Seminars on how to resist Dharels
* Labor and Hari laws and forming of cooperatives and unions
DEPARTMENT OF COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS/ISLAM and SUFISM
* Sindhi form of Sufism promoting religious tolerance
* Teachings of great Sindhi poets/saints in virtues of non-violence
* Seminars in Freedom of Religion
* Education in essence of Islam in order to resist Jihadi propaganda
MEDICAL COLLEGES/HEALTH INSTITUTES/PHARMACY /PHARMACOLOGY
* Preventive Medicine
* Maternity Care
* Hepatitis Control
* General Hygiene and malnutrition
* Traveling Seminars in Preventive Medicine
ENGINEERING COLLEGES/COMPUTER SCIENCES/INFORMATIO N SCIENCES
* Energy Conservation
* Energy Generation Planning
* Use of Coal for Energy Generation
* Vocational skills training
* Establishing Internet Access Points in rural areas
* Skills required to work in oil and gas fields of Sindh
* Building roads to connect farming communities to markets
* Training in how to improve small infrastructure assets in villages
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION/ ECONOMICS
* Managerial skills for oil, gas and coal industries
* Micro finance in villages
* Creating income opportunities for women in villages
* Small Business Opportunities in Villages
* Seminars in building “for profit”, “non-profit” and other NGOs
* Education in improving effectiveness and strengthening of NGOs
* Harnessing income producing opportunities at village level
* Simple Techniques for increasing yields
* Proper care for home-based fruit trees and vegetable plants
* Opening and managing village-level libraries
* Building responsible, capable, and independent media
For many years, international donors and in particular the US government had ignored the plight of rural people and concentrated mostly to appease Pakistan’s military and their partner elites. This trend has first time turned as both the Executive and Legislative branches in the USA have realized that the Pakistani establashment consistently ignores common people and largely caters to the elite. This is a great opportunity for Sindh and other provinces, especially for the people of small towns and villages to bring a positive revolution. Unfortunately, common people do not have expertise to bring a peaceful positive revolution on their own. This undertaking is further complicated due to the lack of effective and large NGO networks in Sindh. Thus, the onus is on the universities and colleges of Sindh to come forward and play their role. Various institutions including political parties, government machinery and NGOs have largely failed in bringing much positive in the lives of people of rural Sindh. In my view, our only hope is that the network of universities and colleges in Sindh will step up. The ENHANCED PARTNERSHIP WITH PAKISTAN ACT OF 2009 (Bill S. 1707) offers many opportunities to the academic institutions to extend their reach to thousands of communities in interior Sindh and this is the only way Sindh can achieve fa positive revolution.
About Author: Mr. Khalid Hashmani is a Washington DC-based veteran human rights activist. He is the founding President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) and Chief coordinator of Sindhi Excellence Team (SET) that participates in advocacy activities on behalf of rural Sindhi.