Reforming the executive Part III- Ishrat Husain

Government reforms in education are badly needed to improve literacy in the country. These reforms should begin with a clear division of responsibilities between the federal, provincial and district governments in the delivery of services. While the federal government will focus on higher education financing, regulations and standards and curriculum, the provincial governments will be responsible for college and technical and vocational education. The district governments will have the exclusive powers to manage and operate primary and secondary education up to matriculation. Examination reforms will be carried out to bring the standards of various boards at par. Management and teaching cadres should be separated and the career paths for the two cadres would not discriminate against the teachers.

To bring about coordination and ensure uniformity in standards of public, private and not for private schools, a district education board should be established in each district. The board will consist of eminent persons enjoying a good reputation in their communities and will have the district education officer as its secretary. The board will be assisted by school management committees which will be empowered to oversee the school’s functioning. Head teachers will enjoy more administrative authority in running the schools and disciplining the teachers and arrange inspection of schools periodically. Management and teaching cadres should be separated and the career paths for the two cadres would not discriminate against the teachers. To provide financing for talented students to pursue studies at top institutions in the country, endowments funds should be established by the provincial governments. Students’ vouchers or stipends should be given to meritorious children from the poor families to attend private schools of their choice. Private-public partnerships in the form of “adopt-a-school” programmes should be encouraged and given incentives. To promote girls’ increased enrolment at primary schools, only female teachers should be employed whenever possible.

Most of the problems in healthcare delivery arise not from financial constraints but due to poor management practices. The health management cadre should therefore be separated from teaching and service providers in each province and the federal government. Only those having the aptitude should be recruited as health managers and trained at the national and provincial health academies. The district, teaching and other specialised hospital should have their own autonomous board of directors and should be given autonomy in administrative, financial, legal and human resource matters. Health, manpower development, particularly in the nursing and paramedical professions, require urgent attention for quality and volume increase. The health regulatory framework should be made more effective and decentralised from the federal health ministry to the provincial directors of health.

There is almost a consensus that the law and order and security problems that have worsened in the recent years have arisen due to inefficiency, corruption and politicisation of the police force. The original Police Order of 2002 has been compromised by amendments that have weakened the functioning as well as the accountability of the police. Legislative amendments and revised disciplinary rules are needed to allow police officers to perform their duties in accordance with the Police order and to remove the discretionary powers of the police. The police force should not fall under the purview of the Civil Servants Act (except for those belonging to the Police Service of Pakistan) as it impedes internal accountability. Disciplinary rules should be framed under the Police Order. The provincial police office should be organised along functional lines and powers should be delegated according to the Police Order. Police stations should be merged, upgraded and headed by a directly recruited officer in Grade 17 with full responsibility for watch and ward, investigation and operations. Training, allowances, mobility, logistics support, lodging and boarding, medical facilities and welfare of the police force fall short of their requirements and create demoralisation, too. These should be reviewed and strengthened. The traffic police in all large cities should be organised and operated on the lines of the Motorway Police.

Land records as maintained by the patwari are the single largest source of disputes and litigation in the country. The attempts to create a digital database of land records have remained half-hearted. The commission believes that headway in computerisation is the way out of the present precarious situation.

Land revenue assessment and collection, adjudication and dispute resolution should remain under the district government. However, the maintenance and update of land records should be taken away from the district government and placed directly under the Board of Revenue. The post of patwari should be replaced by that of revenue assistant in BS 11 and above and recruited through the provincial public service commission.

The Colonisation of Government Lands Act of 1912 should be revised for better and transparent allocation and utilisation of state land.

The above set of recommendations, if implemented earnestly, will generate much needed sense of confidence among the ordinary citizens of the country, relieve undue pressure on our politicians for chasing the officers of various departments and bring dividends to the political parties in power at the federal and the provincial governments.

(Concluded)

The writer was governor of the State Bank of Pakistan from 1999 to 2005 and is currently director of IBA, Karachi. He also headed the National Commission for Government Reform. Email: husainish@gmail.com

Source: The News, 14/7/2008

Leave a Reply