Political will may help solve Pakistan's education problem

Alif Ailaan’s strategy is to drum up demand for quality education, Mosharrafy Zaidi says.

For Mosharraf Zaidi, one can’t make a “meaningful, deep, sustainable change in education” in Pakistan unless the public starts talking about it. The program director of Alif Ailaan, a campaign that seeks to put education at the forefront of public discourse in Pakistan, shared in a video interview with Devex Impact Editor Adva Saldinger how his organization is planning to reform education in the country.

In Pakistan, almost half of the children are out of school and those who are in school often receive poor quality education. Even students who are being transferred from public schools to private schools are moved to low-cost institutions that do not provide quality education.

Zaidi also noted that there is a disconnect in the politics in schools and with the demand of the people. There is limited public engagement with public officials, he said, and when people do talk to their local leaders, it is often about personal problems, like getting a relative out of prison.

Mosharraf Zaidi, program director at Alif Ailaan, shares how political will on the domestic level can make the difference in building long-lasting reforms.

Change will not come easy, Zaidi admitted, unless there is political will, adding that donors often look for it when they give assistance.

“Developing countries can benefit from international assistance if they themselves have the will to do stuff,” he said.

But there already is political pressure to improve education in Pakistan, Zaidi said, and what his organization does is catalyze political will so it can translate into reforms.

Watch the clips above to learn more about how his organization aims to help Pakistanis change how they view their education problem, and how political will can be a tool to build long-lasting reforms.

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About the author

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    Jacques Jimeno

    Jacques is a copy editor at Devex’s news production team. Previously, he worked with the Philippine Department of Tourism and the World Wide Fund for Nature. He is currently taking his master’s degree in communication from the University of the Philippines Diliman.