Education or Cricket | Flawed textbooks
What matters more: Education or Cricket?
Islamabad, Feb 15: There are more than five million reasons for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
and Najam Sethi to ignore cricket and focus on the ubiquitous
illiteracy in Pakistan.
UNESCO's latest report on Education for All
labels Pakistanis as one of the most illiterate people on the planet.
With 5.5 million school-aged children not in school and child
malnutrition being a chronic problem, Pakistan's development statistics
resemble those of the starving nations in Africa. And whereas African
countries are fast improving the welfare of their citizens and the state
of their economies, the opposite is true for Pakistan.
The elite and the middle classes in Pakistan are aware of the sorry
state of affairs in the country. But do they care? An army of illiterate
youth is being raised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone. Millions of
malnourished children are struggling with hunger in Sindh. Thousands of
Balochs are displaced and their children lack access to education. The
elite in Pakistan are, however, focused on cricket. It doesn't matter
how educated or empowered one is, apathy runs deep in the society.
UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report (Teaching and
Learning: Achieving Quality for All) was released recently. The report
makes dozens of embarrassing references to Pakistan, highlighting the
nation's failures in educating its children. Even the future does not
look promising. Of the 12 countries least likely to meet the threshold
for primary education by 2015, 10 are in sub-Saharan Africa. Pakistan
and Djibouti are the other two states most likely to fail the primary
education test. But this is not all. Pakistan is doing precious little
to address this. The gaps in primary education remain. In fact, the
UNESCO report points out that of the 10 countries that face the most
severe shortage of primary school teachers, all except Pakistan are in
What matters more: Education or Cricket?
With the Prime Minister, superior courts, news media, and public
intellectuals fixated on sports, no wonder education fails to be a
priority in Pakistan, which accounts for 10 per cent of the global
population of out of school children. Pakistan spent 2.3 per cent of its
GNP on education in 2010, less than 2.6 per cent of GNP in 1999. In
comparison, the military spending consumes 3 per cent of Pakistan's GDP.
Who in Pakistan decides to spend more on military and less on
It's not just spending, but smart spending that matters.
Historically, education investments have mainly focused on brick and
mortar. The chronic shortage of primary school teachers is an example of
misspending in education. As for the education spending on non-salary
items is concerned, the situation is even worse. A study of recurring
budgets in five districts revealed that a mere 5 per cent of the
recurring budget was spent on non-salary items.
For decades, Pakistan has relied on charity from tax payers in North
America and Europe to pay for the education of its children. Unlike
cricket and nuclear bombs, Pakistanis cannot be engaged in issues that
really matter to them. With 768,000 Pakistanis paying income tax, the
tax to GDP ratio in Pakistan is approximated at 10 per cent. The UNESCO
report recommends that Pakistan should consider eliminating tax
exemptions to raise the tax revenue. The report highlights the fact that
while the agriculture sector accounts for 22 per cent of Pakistan's
economy, it generates only 1.2 per cent of the tax revenue.
The UNESCO report suggests that if tax revenue is increased from
being 10 per cent of the GDP to 14 per cent by 2015, and that 20 per
cent of the budget is spent on education, Pakistan can raise sufficient
funds to teach its own children and adolescents. But wait a second. Why
should that be a priority in a country where the government, economic
planners, and the civil society have been hooked on large sums of
foreign aid, most of it supplied by the country Pakistanis love to hate,
but never say no to aid dollars?
Pakistan should not rely on the United States and others to educate
its children. And given that the US is increasingly becoming
disinterested in the region, it is less likely to doll out large amounts
in development aid. The report highlights that of the decline in the
American "total aid to basic education between 2010 and2011, 94 per cent
is accounted for by large falls in its spending in Afghanistan, Iraq
It is sad to see that the global population of illiterates is
concentrated in South Asia and China. Only 10 countries account for 72
per cent of the global illiterate adults. India, China, Pakistan, and
Bangladesh respectively have the highest illiterate populations in the
world. If there is one reason for regional collaboration, illiteracy is
the one. Why can't the governments in the four neighbouring countries
come up with a joint strategy to deal with the shared challenge?
The difference between rich and poor, Balochistan and Punjab
The curriculum and the quality of education differs between the rich
and poor in Pakistan. Standard testing has revealed that for profit,
private schools are in fact providing better education in Pakistan than
the State-operated schools, which charge significantly less than the
private schools. But even the private schools are not meeting the
expected quality standards. According to analysis by the Annual State of
Education Report team in Pakistan, "Thirty-six per cent of grade 5
students in private schools could not read a sentence in English, which
they should have been able to do by grade 2." Literacy in regional
languages was no better. Ninety-plus per cent of children tested in
their native Pushto could not read a sentence in Grade 2.
Even for literacy at the primary level, the poor are running 30 years
behind the rich in Pakistan. The UNESCO report reveals that whereas
children from the affluent households will meet the primary education
targets by 2020 (should have been 2014 or sooner), those from the
low-income households would reach this benchmark only by the 2050s for
boys and may be by the end of the century for girls. With such damming
forecasts about their future, Pakistanis should not give a hoot about
what the International Cricket Council is contemplating.
The inequality between the rich and the poor is further exacerbated
by the differences among provinces. Such is the case of inequalities in
Pakistan that the rich in the development deprived Sindh (mostly rural)
fare worse in education than the poor in Punjab, which is the
demographic base of Pakistan's armed forces. The percentage of 11-years
old from low-income households in Punjab who can do a two digit
subtraction is higher than the same cohorts belonging to affluent
households in Sindh.
"In Balochistan province, Pakistan, only 45 per cent of children of
grade 5 age could solve a two-digit subtraction, compared with 73 per
cent in the wealthier Punjab province. Only around one-quarter of girls
from poor households in Balochistan achieved basic numeracy skills …,"
the report noted.
Lessons from Vietnam
And while Pakistan has been wasting time and opportunity, Vietnam, a
country with similar socio-economics, invested in education and have now
outperformed Pakistan in literacy and economic growth. It was not very
long ago that Vietnam lagged behind Pakistan in development statistics.
However, by making education a priority, Vietnamese have changed the
course for better. Even more important is the fact that Vietnam focused
on eliminating inequalities in education attainment that resulted in a
more inclusive economic growth.
The UNESCO report notes that the difference in education inequality
between Pakistan and Vietnam "accounts for 60 per cent of the difference
in their per capita growth between 2005 and 2010." Pakistan had twice
the level of education inequality than Vietnam. "Viet Nam's per capita
income, which was around 40 per cent below Pakistan's in the 1990s, not
only caught up with Pakistan's but was 20 per cent higher by 2010."
Make no mistake. The elite and middle class in Pakistan will not be able
to continue to enjoy the perks even in the relative safety of their
gated communities. If the poor continue to be marginalised for education
and nutrition, the resulting chaos will be far worse than what one
finds in today's Pakistan. The least one can expect from the political
and intellectual elite of Pakistan is to focus on what threatens the
welfare of citizens. It's not cricket. It's illiteracy and malnutrition.
If the elite can't get this right, their education has been all for
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Froebelians excel in IGCSE examination
Islamabad: Two students of Froebel's International School have got two world
distinctions in British Board Edexcel International General Certificate
for Secondary Education (IGCSE) Examination 2013 in English Language and
Islamic Studies - a rare achievement by a Pakistani school.
Malik got 100% in English Language to get 'Top in World in English
Language' and also 'Top in Region in History' IGCSE Examination 2013
while Nousherwan Aziz got world distinction in Islamiat.
school held a simple ceremony at its Islamabad Campus to acknowledge
achievements of its students who got distinction both at world, regional
and country level and had done a great pride to their institution. It
was attended by parents and students, winning distinctions in different
subjects like Mathematics, Art, Urdu and Physics.
the Froebel's International School Shahmina Kamal gave away commendation
certificates to school teachers whose students had brought world
recognition to their school. In her brief remarks, Shahmina heaped
praise on her teachers and students for putting in great efforts which
helped them leave a mark in the IGCSE Examination conducted annually
across the world.
Shahmina Kamal, on the occasion,
announced head boy and head girl of the student council which works as a
bridge between the school administration and students. The news
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Flawed textbooks hamper learning process
Islamabad: Experts say that faulty textbooks not only confuse students about
various academic concepts but also develop aversion among them to their
studies; rather the whole learning process.
They were commenting on the faulty Class X Physics textbook developed
and published under the Punjab school education department through
Punjab Curriculum Authority (PCA) and Punjab Textbook Board (PTB).
The textbook for English medium students is one glaring example of inefficiency on the part of the two executing agencies.
Though the PCA and PTB blame each other for the fiasco, the
end-losers are the students who are to appear for their first 'career
examination' of matriculation.
The Physics textbook carried 104 conceptual and technical mistakes – identified by the PTB's Physics textbook editor.
The PCA had originally approved the manuscript that carried 1,066
spelling, grammatical, technical, conceptual and illustrative mistakes.
Educationists believe that faulty textbooks play havoc with the
learning process of students and they fail to progress, as they should
They also believe that schoolteachers are also not playing their role
of explaining various concepts to students because of sticking to
contents of poorly written textbooks for ensuring good grades for them.
In many cases teachers are not even able to identify the mistakes in textbooks that further complicates the issue.
Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, country's top nuclear physicist, academic and
essayist, commenting on the issue asks that in such a scenario is there
any surprise that generations of young Pakistanis who are studying
terrible textbooks, like Physics Class 10 book, are becoming science
phobic and the quality of science education in Pakistan is so poor?
Apart from being replete with spelling and grammatical mistakes, Dr
Hoodbhoy says, most local textbooks contain such conceptual errors that
one feels the author should not be allowed to become an educator.
"Instead, they (such authors) need to be educated in the subject," he
He says the weakest part of many a textbook he browsed through is the
chapter-end questions and exercises, terming them a useless
"The authors do not know that the essence of science is problem
solving, and that good scientific training builds a student's capacity
to internalise newly learnt principles by applying them to problems
whose answers are yet unknown," he observes.
In contrast, Dr Hoodbhoy says, foreign-authored "O" level textbooks,
used only by a tiny sliver of up-scale Pakistani schools, usually do
have good questions.
He says a firm resolve is needed for a turn-around. Pakistanis must
admit locally written textbooks are nowhere as good as foreign ones, and
use the very best available anywhere, he says.
Rejecting the arguments often forwarded against import of textbooks,
Dr Hoodbhoy says they carry no weight since we use medicines and
computers invented by 'outsiders', fly in their planes and use their
"False pride and misplaced beliefs must be set aside. Eating a humble
pie is never easy, but surely this is a small price for having
scientifically smart Pakistanis in the future," he asserts.
Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, who has retired as Dean of Punjab
University's Faculty of Education, says such mistakes lead to developing
wrong concepts, laying a faulty foundation for further
He says psychologists say that such faulty concepts are hard to
rectify and become more damaging in a country like Pakistan where
textbooks are the only resource available to the teachers as well as
Prof Iqbal blamed overall wrong policies adopted by the Punjab government for the glitch.
Referring to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, Prof Iqbal says
provinces have now taken charge of curriculum development, and the PCA
has been established.
But, he says, the role of PCA in principle is to develop and approve
the curriculum not the textbook, which is the PTB's prerogative.
He says multiple textbook policy is a legacy of Gen Musharraf era
which was adopted to give business to an international publishing house.
This policy itself needs to be abandoned as it has proved
counterproductive, he suggests. Prof Iqbal stresses that curriculum and
textbook development is a technical job that needs to be left to
Though the school education department has charged nine officials,
including the two who have no role in approving the faulty textbook, the
educationists believe that the circle of inquiry should expand and more
heads should roll to set an example for others involved in the
"business" of developing curricula, writing manuscripts and publishing
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Four AIOU employees sacked
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr. Nazir
Ahmed Sangi taking stern action against corrupt mafia terminated the
services of four contractual employees with immediate effect.
were found involved in illegal practices in dealing with examination
and admission matters. The action was taken after proper enquiry
conducted by the Controller of Examination Dr. Hamid Khan Niazi. During
investigation, the employees confessed in writing to their wrong-doing
and involvement in the unfair practices.
vice-chancellor said illegal and unlawful practices in the examination
and admission system cannot be tolerated, since the university is
committed to provide quality education to the masses.
the recently years, the vice-chancellor has taken a number of steps for
establishing fool-proof and efficient admission and examination system,
while taking care of the students' interest and ensuring quality
education at all levels.
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BS, MSc anthropology programmes launched at IIU
Islamabad: International Islamic University President Professor Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al Draiweesh
inaugurated Department of Anthropology in Female Campus in which BS and
MSc degree programmes will be offered in spring admission session 2014.
President Academics Dr. Muhammad Bashir Khan, Dean Faculty of Social
Sciences Dr. Nabi Bux Jummani, Director Female Campus Dr. Zaitoon Begum,
In-charge department of Anthropology Dr. Noreen Sehar and students
attended the inaugural ceremony. The president said IIU is committed to
achieve excellence in education and starting of the new degree programme
is a milestone.
Dr. Al Draiweesh also instructed the
faculty members that the course outline must be according to the
teachings of Islam and contemporary time. Dr. Noreen briefed the
president about the course outline and study scheme as well. The news
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