Education sector facing major problems
Limited resources and mismanagement in Education sector
Islamabad, Sep 25: The government recently unveiled the National Education Policy 2009
amidst much fanfare. In accordance with this plan the federal cabinet
has approved an increase in the budget outlay for education to seven
per cent of the GDP by 2015.
Even if this plan is not altered
in the next six years, which, according to the country's track record
is unlikely, it will not be possible to inject the proposed additional
funds - though desirable - into the education sector because of
resource constraints and mismanagement. Previous administrations were
incapable of utilising the full amount allocated to them even when
public expenditure on education was around a paltry two per cent.
According to a recent report, "Lahore alone had 1,340 schools but out
of them 344 were without electricity, 223 without drinking water, 183
without walls and 185 without main doors. In Punjab 362 schools were
grabbed by powerful local people … out of the 79,000 private schools,
only 18,000 were registered with the government". The situation is not
any better in Sindh where it is estimated that there are 6,480 'ghost
schools'. This is only the tip of the iceberg as conditions in the NWFP
and Balochistan are worse.
Even if the proposed allocation of
seven per cent of the GDP is met by 2015, formidable issues need to be
resolved. Inter-provincial coordination needs to be established before
the proposed uniformity of the syllabus and standards between public
and private schools can be brought about.
of the objectives of this document are based on the principle of equal
opportunity for all. Although this looks impressive on paper, social
dynamics in Pakistan present roadblocks that will be insurmountable if
an attempt is made to redress them solely through an education plan.
For instance, the federal minister for education, Mir Hazar Khan
Bijarani, envisages an increase in the literacy rate from 55 per cent
(ranking Pakistan 160th in the world) to 85 per cent through the
implementation of the proposed education policy.The establishment of
new schools and free education can only be fully utilised if the family
income is above subsistence level. Soaring inflation and meagre wages
have compelled all able members of a family to work. The priority here
is survival and food on the table as opposed to merely acquiring a
diploma or a certificate that cannot immediately meet the needs of the
Moreover, vocational training will address the
pressing needs of families living below the poverty line better than
merely increasing the period of high school education by two years.
Keeping the deplorable state of the economy and job market in mind,
this acquisition of skills must be backed by micro-credit schemes for
the establishment of small business units nationwide.
other hurdle in increasing the literacy rate is the cultural and
perceived religious taboos that are associated with female education.
This is the primary reason behind the appalling female literacy rate of
an estimated 42 per cent in Pakistan.
A portion of the
envisaged outlays for the education sector must, therefore, be utilised
to address the problem. This would entail collaboration, if possible,
with the mosque/madressah networks as their influence amongst the
masses is immense. This is likely to be resisted by the seminaries as
many of them are hand-in-glove with the Taliban who reject female
education as anathema to Islamic teachings.
minister has also stated that the madressahs will be persuaded by the
interior ministry to include subjects that will allow their graduates
an opportunity to obtain employment. The interior ministry was
previously given the task of establishing a Madressah Welfare Authority
by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to regulate and reform these
seminaries. The resistance from religious parties, the ministry of
religious affairs and the madressah boards that followed, derailed this
initiative. There has been no substantial change in the present
structure or drastic shift in the mindset of vested interests to
suggest a different outcome.
Furthermore, if madressahs are
being considered as educational institutes then their regulation should
fall under the jurisdiction of the education ministry and not the
interior ministry. However, the justification behind this anomaly is
that, according to previous interior ministry statements, 10 per cent
of these seminaries are known to subscribe to the Taliban/Al Qaeda
ideology. These statistics raise the question why nothing has been done
to neutralise these 'factories of terror'.
indicates that economic and social reasons account for 89.58 per cent
of madressah enrolment; the remaining 10.42 per cent is for religious,
educational and political considerations. The acceptance by successive
governments of these institutions functioning as social welfare
organisations by providing board and lodging to millions of children
whose families live in poverty, is tantamount to admitting that the
state has failed in its responsibility to provide basic amenities to
the less fortunate.
The provision of charitable services by
madressahs is only a smokescreen for obscurantist indoctrination in the
guise of education. This has produced a radicalised segment of society
that is not capable of either acquiring gainful employment or pursuing
higher education. Moreover, the seminaries are not reliant on
government funds. They are, therefore, unlikely to be receptive to the
proposals outlined by the education minister.
attempts by the state to regulate and reform madressah activities and curriculum have been futile.
the government is incapable or unwilling to reform these seminaries,
then it should utilise its resources in providing board, lodging and
education to the underprivileged as is being presently done by
Therefore, the implementation of the National
Education Policy 2009 will entail the overhauling of not just the
education system but the socio-economic set-up in Pakistan. This is a
daunting task which requires the synchronisation of the efforts of
various ministries and public-private partnerships to promote equitable
Once the road maps are established
to implement the goals proposed in the education policy it will be
realised that there are no quick fixes. The problem is serious and
requires an equally serious and sustained effort to resolve it. -Mushfiq Murshed
is editor-in-chief of Criterion Quarterly.
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Teaching, management cadre split to downgrade teachers
Islamabad: The bifurcation of teaching and management cadres, mentioned in the
National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, would further drop the status of
teachers, as they would not attain the position of vice-principal even
after 40 years of service.
President Teachers Association
Professor Qasim Masood expressed said that due to the separation between the teaching and
management responsibilities, a teacher could maximally gain the rank of
a professor in his lifetime and would never get to be in an educational
institution's top management. He opposed bifurcation in the cadres, so
that every teacher could have a chance to excel on the basis of his
experience and capabilities.
The NEP 2009 document states,
"Educational management demands professional standards and expertise,
for which the traditional policymakers at the ministries or the head
teachers are unprepared and untrained. At the institutional level,
planning also takes time away from teaching responsibilities."
further states that most persons at management positions in Pakistan's
education sector have no training in the function. Head teachers,
district education officers (DEOs), executive district officers (EDOs)
and director public instructions (DPIs) are mostly appointed from
amongst the teacher cadre (college or school) without much management
With regard to policy actions, it says that a
management cadre for education, with specified training and
qualification requirements, shall be introduced.
stated that there should be two tiers of education instead of the
prevailing three tiers in our country - secondary (from Class KG to
Class 12), college (Class 13 & 14) and university (Class 15
onwards) - as it would help raise the status of teachers. "The school
level should resume till Grade 12 while the university level should
start from Grade 13, skipping the college level."
tiers of education, he said, would give benefit to the teachers as far
as their salaries and grades are concerned, as there are four tiers of
promotion currently prevailing in the country. "According to the tiers
of promotion, which are 1-15-34-50, the university level teacher will
benefit more," he said adding that according to the two-tier education,
a college teacher would be upgraded as a university teacher and would
gain the benefits accordingly.
He claimed that his proposal in
this regard was approved by the secretary and additional secretary of
Ministry of Education, but was not included in the policy. He alleged
that NEP 2009 is a drawing room policy in which no working teacher has
been taken on board.
The policy document states that Grades 11
and 12 shall not be part of the college level and shall be merged into
the school level, forming part of the existing secondary schools where
needed, and provision of necessary human and physical resources shall
be ensured. This exercise shall be undertaken after a detailed study of
the failures of previous such efforts.
Deputy Education Advisor
Ministry of Education TM Qureshi said
the policy document contains a separate segment 6.1 of 'Improving
Teacher Quality', which covers all areas for teachers training and
improvement in their structure.
He quoted the policy, which
states that governments shall take steps to improve the social status
and morale of teachers that include up-gradation of teacher salaries as
part of establishing a separate teaching cadre and teaching career,
teachers' professional development, and a reward system based on
He denied the allegation regarding the
policy as a drawing document and said all relevant quarters were taken
into confidence before finalizing the document and it took a long time.
"There are 1.2 million teachers currently working in the country and it
was not possible to discuss the policy individually with each of them,
but we have taken educationalists on board in the policy making
process," he said.
Answering a question regarding the tiers of
education, he said it is not necessary to follow a few countries
blindly while neglecting our own circumstances. "We should look towards
those countries that have a close resemblance with us in terms of
socio-political conditions," he said.
Qureshi said the K-12
formula (Class KG to Class 12) followed by a college level is observed
successfully in more than 50 per cent of the countries with close
socio-political resemblance with our country, so we decided to go for
this system. "There are numerous examples of colleges that haven't
gained the status of a university but are famous worldwide for their
outstanding academic performance," he said.
He said the teachers
have started ignoring the quality of education and instead have a materialistic approach. The news
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