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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has rated the progress towards achievement of the project development objective of the “Sindh Early Learning Enhancement through Classroom Transformation” project worth $154.77 million as moderately unsatisfactory.

The bank rated the overall implementation progress of the project as moderately satisfactory.

Official documents of the bank noted that project implementation has gained momentum in critical areas, as evidenced by the appointment of technical consultants; the signing of three major consulting firm contracts (Design and Supervision firm for civil works, and IT Firm for Monitoring of Construction Supervision, and the School Leadership Training firm under Component 3); advances in procurements of four Technical Assistance consulting firm contracts; initiation of several key field level activities including the selection of the School Education and Literacy Department (SELD)’s field personnel for conducting teacher’s Continuous Professional Development; the review and development of learning and reading materials for Grades 1 and 2; and satisfactory progress on E&SS commitments.

Notwithstanding this implementation momentum, progress against Project results targets remains limited. Overall disbursement and expenditure also remain low due to delays in procurement but are expected to pick up in the coming semester as firms come on board. Actions to expedite the completion of key procurements by February 29, 2024, initiate field-level activities at the student level and achieve 7 PBC targets by June 2024, have been agreed with SELD and are currently under implementation.

The baseline will be conducted by April 2024 and results reported by May 2024. Data collection on PDOs 2 and 3 was underway in October-November 2023 and will serve as a revised baseline in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the 2022 floods.

The task team may need to subsequently recalibrate targets during the Project Mid-Term Review (MTR) to account for learning losses stemming from the poly-crisis. Field level CPD activities are expected to commence in April 2024, and the first set of results against targets for PDOs 2 and 3 will be available in October-November 2024.

The contract of a leadership firm for the development of student attendance redress procedures has been awarded and the selection of a technology firm related to PDO 4 is at the Request for Proposals stage.

Despite initial delays, PMIU has made notable progress on implementation activities which will support the achievement of IRIs under Component 1, namely the selection of SELD field personnel for CPD program delivery, advanced procurement for key consulting firm contracts for Material Development and CPD, development and review of teaching and learning materials for Grades 1-2 by RSU and the allied agencies, development of the first draft of the Classroom Observation Tool for literacy, and delivery of a qualitative study to inform the design of the behavioral nudges intervention.

Field-level CPD activities are expected to commence in May 2024. However, owing to the academic cycle, results against IRIs 1.1, 1.3, 1.5 will be available in the first quarter of fiscal year 2025, whereas results against IRI 1.4 (which requires 6 months of coaching support) will be available by the second quarter of FY 25.

Under Component 2, the D&S firm is now onboard and civil works activities are expected to commence in schools in March 2024 with the first set of schools being upgraded between March-May 2025, enabling progress against IRIs 2.1 and 2.2.C For IRI 2.3 climate-responsive, disaster-resilient, and learning-friendly school designs will be finalized through TA support from the World Bank; and climate-responsive criteria for school upgrades were finalized in consultation with the Bank team and will be notified by SELD by January 15, 2024.

Under Component 3, the procurement of the SAMRS firm is at an advanced stage, and the SAMRS system is expected to be deployed in April 2024. Results against IRIs 3.1 and 3.2, will be available in April 2024.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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