Pakistan News

‘Scale of education crises means joint efforts are needed’

‘Scale of education crises means  joint efforts are needed’

ISLAMABAD: “The country’s education sector requires support from the government and the communities,” said Dr Faisal Bari on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the Pakistan Innovation Corridor, which brought together policymakers, academics and practitioners who discussed the challenges facing the education sector and the ways in which global best practices may be applied. The event was organised by Ilm Ideas - Pakistan Education Fund.

Speakers lamented that among 120 countries, Pakistan ranks 113 on the Global Education Development Index and has over 25 million out of school children.

Dr Bari supported the idea of the public-private school programme, under which the Punjab government with the support of non-profit organisations is running around 500 schools. However, he said that this was not a sustainable solution in the long run.




Speaking on the occasion, rights activist Baela Raza Jamil said Pakistan’s perforated education system remained off track on all targets set under the National Education Policy 2009, Education For All Goals and Millennium Development Goals. She said that political parties had made several commitments on budget, quality and access enhancement, but commitments have not translated into achievements.

“The Constitution makes the provision of free and compulsory education, the responsibility of the state,” said Education Secretary Imtiaz Tajwar.

Mr Tajwar said the government had been making efforts to bring improvements to the education sector.

“However, while enrolment is increasing the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data shows that learning outcomes are dismal,” he added.

The secretary said the scale of the challenge calls for innovative thinking and collective action.

Education economist Dr Monazza Aslam said that while there were a number of well-drafted policies, there was a lack of implementation.

“Our education sector is facing several barriers such as economic and culture constraints. There is a need for research on teaching quality,” she said.

Addressing participants, Punjab Education Minister Rana Masood told the audience that the provincial government had taken several visible steps to improve the education sector.

“We have increased the budget for education and ensured that teachers are appointed on merit. By the end of 2017 we will achieve MDGs on education,” he said.

In addition to regular government schools, the government is also providing quality education through Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), the minister said.

“This PEF model is sustainable and cheaper. In regular schools, the government has to bear an expenditure of Rs1,600 per student, while through this model only Rs450 is being spent on each student,” he said.

He added that in the next two years, rather than establishing new schools, the government will try to further empower the PEF.

Sardar Raza Muhammad Khan Barrech, adviser to Balochistan chief minister on education, said the incumbent provincial government had taken several steps for bringing improvements in the education sector.

Zehra Zaidi, Ilm Ideas Programme team leader, reiterated the need for out of the box solutions for addressing the educational deficits in Pakistan and said interventions must focus on populations affected by conflict or crises.

Some speakers also highlighted the importance of the mother tongue in a child’s learning process. “Instructions given in a child’s mother tongue are an essential part of the learning process,” said Neelum Hussain.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2015

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