Experts stress need to develop flood resilient education system

By Asad Cheema

ISLAMABAD:Experts have stressed the need to take immediate measures to recover the loss of learning during floods and develop a flood-resilient education system to prevent disruption of educational process in such calamities.
This was stressed during the launch of the report on the post-floods education situation in the country, ‘Towards a Resilient Education Recovery from Pakistan’s Floods – Rapid Response Research’, published by Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) in collaboration with the Education Champion Network (ECN), said a news release issued on Wednesday.
A high-level policy discussion also took place on the sidelines of the launch organized by PCE in collaboration with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MOFEPT) and ECN. Representatives from the World Bank, JICA, FCDO, International Rescue Committee (IRC), UNICEF, and the UNDP participated in the policy roundtable.
The report highlighted several issues within education response in flood-affected areas. These include a lack of emergency response planning within the education system and a lack of focus on widespread learning poverty among students.
The report calls for rigorous coordination between the district, federal and provincial governments for recovering learning losses and enhancing the educational infrastructure in the country. The report also underlined the need to focus on students’ learning, rather than mere enrolment and rebuilding infrastructure.
The initial findings from this research have been incorporated into the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and UNDP’s plan, ‘Pakistan Floods 2022: Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework in the section on education.
Speaking on the occasion, Additional Secretary MOFEPT Waseem Ajmal said, “The 2022 floods have been devastating for Pakistan’s development. In education, 3.6 million children were affected and over 34,000 schools were damaged or destroyed. All education departments, including MOFEPT, are now working to ensure education continues for those children affected by the floods.

“Several districts across Pakistan that were affected by last year’s catastrophic floods are the same as where massive flooding occurred in 2010 and 2011,” expressed Zehra Arshad, Executive Director PCE.

“To structure an effective response to educational needs, this important report asks for using rapid response mechanisms like a public-private partnership to help build schools at a faster pace and more importantly to ensure that all girls and boys who had to experience major learning losses can rapidly keep up with learning,” said by Javed Malik, Program Director Malala Fund Pakistan office.

The author of the report Dr Moizza Binat Sarwar said, “Given past examples from Pakistan, the rebuilding of damaged or destroyed infrastructure/schools has been the main strategy of education recovery. While this is important, evidence shows that merely building new brick-and-mortar buildings has had no significant impact on curtailing school drop-outs or improving learning outcomes.”

Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank, Izza Farrukh stressed the need to abandon complicated Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) in favor of a simple curriculum and assessment to facilitate the learning of affected students.