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Community Engagement for School Committees in Pakistan

October 3, 2016

In Pakistan, school management committees were designed to empower communities to advocate on behalf of their children’s education, but they are largely non-functional. Policy makers are exploring new initiatives to involve local communities in schools through revitalized school management committees that help boost accountability and transparency in the education system, and make education services more responsive.


Research area: Education
Country: Pakistan
Evaluation Sample: 287 schools
Timeline: 2013 - 2016 (Completed)
Intervention: Text messages, meetings, information
Researchers: Salman Asim, World Bank; Margo Hoftijizer, World Bank; Umbreen Arif, World Bank


In Sindh province, only 61 percent of all children between the ages of 6-10 years are enrolled in school at the primary level. While on paper the province has a large number of schools, in practice many were found closed on an unannounced visit to school.  School management committees were designed to empower communities to advocate on behalf of their children’s education and bring about improvements in community’s schools.

A pilot was designed to test the impact of steps to improve the functioning of the school committees by invigorating them through meetings and elections, and using text messaging platforms to help families and school officials receive and share information.

Evaluation design
Randomized control trial in close to 300 villages in rural Sindh province. There were four treatment groups: in one group, village wide meetings were held to give parents information on what they could do and how to use the committees to interact with the government schools; in the second group, new elections were also held for school committees; in the third, a text messaging platform for mobile phones created a virtual network of all stakeholders in the community and allowed for anonymity of participants to sidestep the feudal power structures prevalent in rural Sindh; in the fourth, in addition to the text messaging platform, new elections were held for the school committees.

The text messaging platforms proved to be the most effective and improving school functioning and availability of teachers. Schools in areas where community members had access to a text messaging platform and new elections were held were more likely to be open on unannounced visit and had deployed an additional teacher. There is evidence of increase in enrolment and improvements in school-level infrastructure. 

Policy impact
In response to emerging evidence of the effectiveness of ICT-based platforms, the Pakistan Education Secretary started an SMS-based initiative to create linkages between teachers, students and parents.