Nearly 22.5 million children in Pakistan are out of school, and by grade nine, only 13 percent of girls are still attending. In Sindh—Pakistan’s second largest province—more than six million children are out of school, of which more than 50 percent are girls.
Blumont’s 8-year, USAID-funded Sindh Community Mobilization Program (CMP) is improving education in schools across all 29 districts of Sindh by fostering community and private sector involvement in school reforms. In 2013, USAID and the Government of Sindh signed a memorandum of understanding to implement the comprehensive Sindh Basic Education Program (SBEP), now one of the major bi-lateral initiatives that supports the government’s school reform efforts. As a major component of SBEP, CMP is increasing enrollment of girls and improving coordination between parents and educators, bridging the gap between communities and schools for the sake of quality education for all.
Blumont garners community support for local schools and educational resources by implementing inclusive activities such as training, workshops, and social mobilization and school improvement plans. Working with communities, school management committees, and district officials, CMP furthers government efforts to merge, consolidate, and upgrade schools; enhances accountability; and creates sustainable management of local schools.
The program also aims to increase the enrollment and retention of girls in school. While developing and strengthening linkages between communities and the Education Department, CMP empowers women by advocating girls’ education and women’s participation in community-level decision-making bodies through trainings on financial management, community mobilization, and nutrition. This initiative also provides small grants for basic school facilities like furniture, washrooms, and boundary walls to help girls feel safer and more comfortable at school.
CMP supports USAID and GOS efforts to form public-private partnerships and obtain other types of cash and in-kind support. Blumont established and strengthened the Public Private Partnership Node of the GOS Sindh Education and Literacy Department to procure, manage, and monitor education management organization contracts, which outsource the management of newly-constructed schools. Blumont is working with GOS to develop and implement a sustainability plan for reform, encouraging long lasting relationships between the GOS, private sector, and communities.
CMP works with parents, teachers, and students to raise awareness of health, hygiene, and water and sanitation practices aimed at addressing the root causes of malnutrition. Through knowledge, attitude and practice surveys, participatory action research, and establishing linkages between government health facilities and CMP schools, the program is promoting sustainable behavior changes that will have an impact across health outcomes. Blumont also holds sessions for school officials and community members on disaster risk reduction, as many areas are prone to natural disasters. These sessions help communities prepare for and mitigate the risk of earthquakes and floods.