A three-day workshop was held at Sahiwal Campus by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) and CIIT Sahiwal Campus on the “Public Sector of Pakistan: Social Equity Imperatives and the Governance Dynamics” from 8 to 10 August 2017. The resource persons were selected from within the CPS, local representatives from Sahiwal Division, University of Central Punjab (UCP), Danish School System, BISP and e-Rozgar. The participants mostly comprised senior faculty members of the Sahiwal Campus, local NGOs and from the education sector.
The objective of the Workshop was to
* Create awareness about the importance of social equity parameters within the framework of governance and delivery of services;
- * Enhance understanding of concepts such as: social equity, good governance and sustainable development;
* Provide the national and international perspectives within the framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- * Showcase some of the initiatives aimed at addressing the issue of social equality and equity.
In the inaugural session, Director Sahiwal Campus, Prof. Dr. Saleem Farooq Shaukat welcomed the chief guest Mr. Qadir Ahmed Bajwa, Additional Deputy Commissioner and appreciated the CPS and HSF for their initiative in organizing the workshop. He mentioned about the concept of social equity as contained in Islam and the way it was practiced by Khulfa-e-Rashidin. He expressed the hope that the participants of the workshop will be able to benefit from the proceedings of the workshop. In his remarks Mr. Bajwa dilated upon the 18th Amendment and post amendment scenario with reference to service delivery. He wished the workshop success and thanked Sahiwal Campus for inviting him. Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen Head, CPS briefly mentioned about the background to the workshop which was very much in line with the aims and objective of CPS. She also talked about the support extended by HSF and the value of CPS’ partnership with HSF.
Explaining the concept of social equity Dr. Arslan Tariq Rana of UCP elaborated the origins and definition of the concept. He listed a number of priorities within Social Equity context as well as in relation to the Constitution of Pakistan and also in detail discussed its international dimension. Building on the social equity theme Mr. Asad Ejaz Butt of UCP, dwelt on the governance aspect in terms of delivery of social services. He highlighted the barriers and challenges to social equity as issues related to power dynamics, politics, difficulty related to diagnosis, inherent complexity and cultural variability. He outlined targets for service delivery improvement: in the context of health he argued for reduction in in wait time; conformity of need and service delivery, timely and efficient provision, affordability/pricing issue of the delivery system. He recommended that there should be i) compact of policy, system, programme and institutional mechanisms; ii) dovetailing of government initiatives, iii) development of Early Warning Systems, and iv) better delivery through ICT integrated solutions with a focus on local poor.
Briefing on the impact of devolution under 18th amendment, Dr. Arshad Bashir of CIIT after presenting the overview of the 18th amendment provided the evolution of Pakistan’s federal structure in the historical perspective. On the question of implications of the 18th amendment he identified three areas: institutional, fiscal and service delivery. He ended his presentation by underlining the potential and pitfalls of the 18th amendment such as greater harmony in federal-provincial relations, moving the government closer to the people, risks related to the reforming of multi-order governance, federal functions of the government, natural resource ownership and rightsizing of the federal government respectively.
As a case study of efforts towards alleviating social inequity, two presentations were made related to education, health and poverty alleviation which were highly appreciated by the workshop participants. Brig. Aamir Hafeez, M.D Danish School System provided a brief visual presentation which provided the rationale for setting up the school system, the range of activities and transformational impact on the lesser developed regions of southern Punjab as well as spinoff effects on communities in other regions of Pakistan. The participants of the workshop highly appreciated the work being done by Danish School System and saw it as a right step towards positive social change and towards bringing about betterment in the lives of wide community. The BISP presentation by Rao Faisal Niaz Assistant Director BISP Renala Khurd traced the evolution of BISP in keeping with its vision of eradication of poverty and alleviation of the status of under privileged sections of the society. The current initiatives of BISP are categorized under i) conditional, and ii) unconditional which include cash grants and Wassela-e-Rozgar; Waseela-e-Taleem; Waseela-e-sehat and waseela-e-haq respectively.
The module on enhancing vulnerable groups’ development opportunities through foresight was conducted by Mr. Umer Sheraz of CPS. While providing a theoretical background to the process of foresight, attention was drawn to the link between past, present and future with anticipation as being the core of planning for the future. He alluded to the ‘Futures Curve’ and related it to various inputs that influenced public sentiment. In the context of pro-poor foresight he mentioned about analysis that should focus on poor and marginalized people, expanding scope for their social opportunities and making the communities resilient. He conducted group activities which were found useful by the participants.
Ambassador Fauzia Nasreen, Head CPS, conducted the module related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of service delivery. She presented a bird’s eye view of the contemporary environment while tracing the historical perspective of the evolution of theoretical framework of concepts such as social equity, governance and sustainable development. Research conducted on issues of war and peace in the post-World War II geopolitical context that lead to increased awareness of socio-economic dynamics. This research impacted development of theoretical perspective especially in the context of critical theory and emancipation as well as social constructivism. Consequently focus shifting to the root causes of conflicts, structural violence and social emanicipation. While referring to the MDGs (2010 to 2015) and SDGs (2015to 2030) she elaborated on the increasing thrust on sustainable development with its three pillars: social, environmental and economic. The sustainable development paradigm has gained currency in the wake of population explosion, growing scarcity of resources and climate change affecting the lives of people on the planet earth. Hence the focus is on social equity and better governance. The SDGs which enjoys universal acceptance aim to address some of these challenges both at the national, regional and international levels. She then elaborated the SDGs under three categories: People, Planet and Prosperity. The session was followed by a group activity where the participants were divided into four groups to brainstorm on SDGs 6, 13 and 15. The four groups so constituted presented the challenges identified by them and the solutions and recommendations related to clean water, sanitation, climate action and life on land which was ensued by a lively discussion.
Punjab government’s e-Rozgar scheme steered by Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has established a centre in the CIIT Sahiwal Campus. The representatives of PITB made a detailed presentation highlighting the vision, objectives and details of the e-rozgar scheme. Its main aims are to: reduce unemployment; drive economic activity and increase foreign currency inflow. The training programme for budding freelancers offers opportunities for self-employment and self-sustainability through improvement of their critical soft skills. The course tracks include: technical, non-technical and creative designing. PITB provides co-working space, 24-hour monitoring freelancing. A tour of the e-Rozgar centre at the Sahiwal Campus was arranged where the participants explained how the programme has benefitted them. The trainers also narrated their own experiences and the high dividends that they have derived from their software skills.
At the closing Mayor of Sahiwal, Sardar Asad Ali Khan Baloch presented his vision of the Division which included improvement in the sanitation facilities, sewage system, health and education infrastructure as well as beautification of the city of Sahiwal. He appreciated that the workshop aimed at creating awareness had been organized and sought the cooperation of Director Campus, the faculty and the students to help in furthering the agenda of the Municipality. Mr. Omer Ali representative of HSF, conveyed thanks to the Director Prof. Dr. Shaukat for collaborating with CPS and HSF in organizing the workshop and the cooperation extended by the Campus team under the supervision of the Director. He also appreciated the young leadership of Sahiwal municipality and expressed the confidence that under Mr. Baloch’s young stewardship, Sahiwal will achieve all its hallmarks. Prof. Dr. Shaukat thanked the mayor for sparing time out of his busy schedule and for gracing the occasion. He thanked the organizers and the participants for their active interest in the workshop. This was followed by presentation of the shield to the Mayor and distribution of certificates among the participants.
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