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Education policy draft rejected | Students or customers

Draft education policy rejected by federal cabinet
Islamabad, June 11: The federal cabinet has rejected the new National Education Policy and directed the Ministry of Education to re-submit fresh proposals after seeking suggestions from educationists.

Official sources said on Wednesday that the cabinet in a special meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani opined that the new education policy does not represent the concerned quarters, including educationists, intellectuals, the provincial government and teachers' unions, which was mandatory for it.

According to sources, the Ministry of Education tabled the same proposals prepared by former education minister Ahsan Iqbal.

While rejecting the draft of education policy, the cabinet has directed the education ministry to seek recommendations of the concerned quarters to make it more effective.

Sources said that the new policy draft would take another two to three months after which it would be tabled before the cabinet for approval.

There is a chance that the new education policy would be announced after four to five months, sources said.

Similarly, recommendation draft of the policy also did not contain comments of the chief ministers of all the four provinces, which was a mandatory obligation.

Commenting over the issue, Ministry of Education Spokesman Aamir Raza confirmed the report and the reasons behind rejection of the draft of the new education policy by the cabinet. He said as per directions of the cabinet, the ministry would approach the related educationists, union and associations representatives and all the four provincial heads of the respective education departments. "Till then the old system would be followed in all educational institutions including colleges and schools at federal and provincial levels," he added. The News


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Students or customers?
London: Are corporate values now running education in the UK? Have schools in this country been taken over by the language of management consultancy? And does this imply an undermining of a central purpose of teaching: to encourage a sense of inquiry and morality in young people?

These are some of the questions raised - and answered in the affirmative - by a new report which is billed as the largest investigation into education and training for 14- to 19-year-olds in England and Wales for 50 years.

The Nuffield 14-19 review, based at Oxford University, has taken six years to compile. Its report, which runs to 230 pages, attacks the "relentless change" in education as often counterproductive; renews calls for a baccalaureate system for secondary schools; asks why many young people drop out of education and training in their late teens, and calls for the government to rethink plans to "coerce" them into staying on; and offers contrasts between England's approach to school reform and that which has operated in Wales since devolution.

It also finds space to praise ministers for, among other things, their commitment to raising participation rates among 16- to 18-year-olds and their investment in school buildings. But it is what it has to say on the often troubled relationship between schools and business in England that is, perhaps, most eye-catching, raising questions about the philosophy that has governed schools policy for many years.

In a section on "aims and values" of the UK education system, the report says that one set of goals - the need to improve schooling to serve the requirements of the economy - has been given prominence. It cites a speech by Tony Blair in 2005 in which he said: "The country will succeed or fail on the basis of how it changes itself and gears up to this new economy, based on knowledge. Education is now the centre of economic policymaking for the future."

The government, says the report, has therefore laid down a set of aims that are dominated by the need to develop skills for the economy. This comes across not just in the set of exam results-based performance indicators by which schools are judged, but in the language that is used to describe education policy and its implementation.

The report says that growing central control of education has helped to produce a drive to talk about schooling from a "performance management" perspective, which is borrowed from business.

It says: "The consumer or client replaces the learner. The curriculum is delivered. Aims are spelt out in terms of targets. Audits (based on performance indicators) measure success defined in terms of hitting the targets."

It adds: "As the language of performance and management has advanced, so we have proportionately lost a language of education which recognises the intrinsic value of pursuing certain sorts of question ... of seeking understanding [and] of exploring through literature and the arts what it means to be human."

The report cites the decision by ministers, when they were developing a system of performance management for teachers in the late 1990s, to bring in management consultants Hay-McBer to define what constituted good teaching. Another consultancy, McKinsey and Company, was seen as the authority on effective teaching after producing a report in 2007 looking at outstanding practice around the world.

The assumption behind much of education policy - that performance targets are set for teachers in the form of pupils' test and exam success, and the means by which they reach them are less important - is also borrowed from industry.

Last week, a speech made by a leading figure in school assessment referred frequently and uncritically to pupils being teachers' "customers". The Guardian


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Student on UK deportation list returns home
London: Tariqur Rehman, one of the 10 Pakistani students arrested on suspicion of being involved in plotting terrorist activities in the UK and then released for want of actionable evidence but facing deportation orders on national security grounds, returned home on Wednesday after authorities withdrew his deportation orders.

"Now he carries no 'terror' stigma any more and we assume that the Pakistani authorities too would have no cause to detain him on his arrival for interrogation," one of the solicitors defending the students said. Meanwhile, bail applications of other nine Pakistani students in appeal against their deportation orders are likely to get a positive boost when they come up for hearing on July 27 by a landmark ruling on Wednesday by the law lords.

The ruling is said to have dealt a major blow to the government's controversial use of 'control orders' on terror suspects. The ruling said that reliance on secret evidence denies the suspects a fair trial.

The nine-judge panel led by Lord Philips of Worth Matravers, the senior law lord, upheld a challenge on behalf of three men (not among the detained Pakistani students) on 'control orders'.

Control orders imposed on individual suspects by the home secretary can include home curfews of up to 16 hours a day, a ban on travelling abroad, the approval of all visitors by the Home Office, monitoring of all phone calls, and bans on using the internet and mobile phones.

The orders have not been quashed but the law lords have ordered that the cases be heard again.

The three had argued that the refusal to disclose even the "gist" of the evidence against them denied them a fair trial under the Human Rights Act.

In the ruling, Lord Philips said: "A trial procedure can never be considered fair if a party to it is kept in ignorance of the case against him."

Lord Hope said "the slow creep of complacency must be resisted" and that to protect the rule of law, courts must insist the person affected be told what was alleged against him.

These observations are likely to help the solicitors defending the Pakistani students facing deportation orders as in their cases as well the authorities are not willing to disclose what is alleged against them.

A report in The Guardian on Wednesday quoted Home Secretary Alan Johnson as saying that the judgment was extremely disappointing. "Protecting the public is my top priority and this judgment makes that task harder," he said. "Nevertheless, the government will continue to take all steps we can to manage the threat presented by terrorism." Dawn


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