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Old academic session to be revived: Ahsan

Islamabad, May 10, 2008: The federal government has announced to follow the old academic session (April to March) and one curriculum in all the four provinces as well as Azad Jammu & Kashmir from next academic year.

Addressing a press conference, Federal Minister for Education Ahsan Iqbal said that the decision to revive old academic session and to follow one curriculum was taken in the 13th Inter-Provincial Education Minister's Conference held here Friday. The conference was participated by all the four provincial ministers for education as well as AJK, besides education secretaries and officials of the Ministry of Education and concerned educational departments.

The minister said that the meeting reviewed in detail the overall education situation, which he regretted was very disappointing. Huge problems emerged in the sector of education. During the last eight years Pakistan's ranking at international level in the sector of education and human development had slipped from 130th to 136th position. Huge funds worth billions of rupees were allocated during the previous government but those were not utilised for the promotion of education.

He said out of 7,000 union councils in the country, 4,000 union councils have no high school for girls. While more than 2,000 councils have no high school for boys.

Similarly, there is no facility of science and computer laboratories in several union councils. Over 70 per cent of government schools have no science laboratory while 95 per cent have no access of computer laboratory.

Ahsan Iqbal regretted that over the last eight years under 'Parha Likha' Punjab billions of rupees were allocated but the position in education sector was dissatisfactory. He said there is acute shortage of teachers in primary, middle and high schools. The annual GDP was 1.8 per cent in last years while in 90s it was 2.2 per cent. In developed countries the same ratio of GDP is from 4 to 20 per cent.

He said that educational funds were curtailed during the previous government. He said, "the meeting stressed the need for equalling the chain of education for enhancing its value. We reviewed over all situation and decided unanimously to lay topmost priority to education and human resource sector."

According to the decision taken in the conference, the new academic session would start from April to March from next academic year in all schools and colleges.

He informed that the next textbooks have yet not been prepared by the previous government. Under these circumstance, new uniform curriculum would be introduced from next academic session. The old syllabus would continue till next academic session as it is yet not prepared, the minister said.

The provincial ministers as well as AJK minister have been asked to propose suggestions to be introduced in next education policy, which will be based on a knowledge gaining and human resource development. After receiving proposals and suggestions, a National Education Summit would be held in June to be participated by educationists, intellectuals and scholars, teachers and professors to get their proposals for new policy.

Thereafter a drat would be prepared to be discussed in the National Assembly for getting it approved unanimously by the members of the parliament.

Referring to students union, the minister said that an effective and comprehensive strategy would be adopted to revive the students unions in colleges from next academic year. In this connection a workshop would be organised to be participated by heads of the institutions and students as well as professors and lecturers to get their views.

He said a new law if needed would be enacted. He said while reviving students unions "we would keep in view that no violence or any other aggressive attitude should be tolerated on the part of students who are members of their respective unions."

Moreover, all the provinces and AJK members agreed to achieve 100 per cent literacy target by the year 2010 in primary education. He informed that as far as the issue of missing facility in schools is concerned this sector has been run by the Directorate General of Military Operations. However, now it has been agreed upon to handover it back to the respective provinces from July 1 this year. An amount of Rs7.6 billion had been earmarked for overcoming missing facilities in schools, he said. This section would be transformed into permanent organisation. There will be a working coordination between the federal government and provinces in education sector.

Earlier on, the subject has been related with provinces. Similarly, the government has decided to improve the over all condition of education system in Balochistan provinces which at present is very poor. Effective steps would be taken to bring this province at par with other provinces of the country in the field of education.

To a question, the minister informed that the efforts of the new government would be to allocate sufficient funds for education in the annual budget. However, due to crippling economy which is a gift of the previous government, the new government would not be in a position to allocate huge funds for the education sector in the coming annual budget.

"Due to wrong policies of the previous government, we have suffered a loss of Rs500 billion in education sector which has to be recovered through effective strategy," he said.

To another question, Ahsan Iqbal said that the government would give priority to promote science and computer education. High schools for both boys and girls would be opened in the union councils. Our efforts would be to promote information technology.

To a query, the minister said that the task of Army personnel to supervise headmasters and teachers in government schools have brought up negative impacts. However, this system is being changed under the new policy which would be action oriented. Nevertheless our steps for education would bring up good results over the next two years.

To yet another question, Ahsan Iqbal said that the service structure of the schools' teachers would be improved. A new package for teachers would be announced sometime this year under which pay scales and grades would be enhanced. The schoolteachers would work under district level and college lecturers would work at division level without making transfers and postings. They, through this system, would work in their own respective stations.

Similarly, the teachers working on contract basis for more than five years would be regularised under the new policy. However, the appointment of schoolteachers would be made on merit and preference would be given to post graduates and those who have cleared CSS.

The new education policy would be progressive one to handle diversity but while remaining in our culture and tradition.

While concluding his remarks, the minister also vowed to introduce the old system of 'Smart Schools' project, which was abandoned. The News
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