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National education policy glaring concerns

New policy does not envisage a major shift in education resources
Islamabad, Sep 13: The New Education Policy has correctly focused on the core of the educational malaise the country is suffering from: A discriminatory system with one system for the elite and another for the masses; and a lack of resources for investment in the education sector.

Making education compulsory for all at any level is meaningless if that education is outdated and irrelevant to the modern world. The education is also of little use if it does not provide a level playing field in the job market. So it is good to see the government focusing on having one education system for the public and private sectors. A total revision of the curricula is also necessary but a fresh mindset is required to make truly academic curricula, especially in the social sciences.

Unfortunately, the new policy does not envisage a major shift in resources towards education, with only a 7 percent budgetary allocation envisaged by 2015. This is totally inadequate.

Even more glaring is the lack of focus on raising the standard and emoluments for teachers so that this profession becomes one of choice rather than a last resort occupation. A professional teaching cadre has to be developed. Unless we establish the dignity of the teaching profession, no amount of investment in brick and mortar will help us overcome the education deficit.

A major cause for concern in the NEP is the bringing in of the Interior Ministry into the realm of education. By placing madrassahs under the Interior Ministry, we will further push them out of the educational mainstream. This is an untenable posture and one is totally at a loss to understand why this discriminatory treatment is being meted out to the madrassahs, which by and large cater to the already marginalized segments of the population.

The correct approach would have been to bring the madrassahs, like religious schools across the world, into the mainstream of the educational system, with the religious part of the examinations being conducted by the relevant religious boards. If we are going to have one educational system for all, the religious schools must also be brought into this ambit. Without this, we cannot rid ourselves of the debilitating cost of an illiterate nation. The nation

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First ever theme based policy as compared to all previous ones
Islamabad: Education Policy 2009 is the first ever theme based policy as compared to all previous ones that were topic based, which is why one should expect a 180-degree diversion in the new policy.

These views were expressed by Joint Education Advisor (JEA) Ministry of Education TM Qureshi said on Saturday.

Commenting on as to what prompted the change in the vision of Education Policy 2009 when the supporting arguments are the same, he said the policy document is not the work of a single person but a team that includes education ministers of the four provinces, three education secretaries, two joint education advisors and one deputy education advisor.

"Everyone of them has included or excluded some things from the document in order to make it acceptable to all relevant quarters," he said adding that the change in the vision statement is a unanimous decision and holds significance.

Qureshi said they have attached 20 aims and objectives to the vision statement, further elaborating it. "There have been numerous major and minor changes in the policy document within the span of one year in order to make it a largely acceptable document but everyone is looking for things that have not been changed," he said.

He said the task of the federal government is to provide a document, which could be easily implemented by the provinces in accordance to their circumstances and socio-political structure. "Education is a provincial matter and provinces are responsible for the implementation of the policy document, while the federal government is to just give a framework and vision in the form of policy," he said.

According to the new policy document, the vision adopted by the Ministry of Education goes like, "Our education system must provide quality education to our children and youth to enable them to realise their individual potential and contribute to development of society and nation, creating a sense of Pakistani nationhood, the concepts of tolerance, social justice, democracy, their regional and local culture and history based on the basic ideology enunciated in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan."

The new vision statement has an obvious difference from the previous one, which stated, "Education is a categorical imperative for individual, social and national development that should enable all individuals to reach their maximum human potential. The system should produce responsible, enlightened citizens to integrate Pakistan in the global framework of human centred economic development."

However, the supporting arguments, stated in the document of the new and the previous policy, are almost same, stating that the reaffirmation of the educational vision requires a change of mindset that would permit the development of goals, policies and programmes in support of the vision. The Planning Commission's 'Vision 2030' also argues for such change of the mindset, which commits to a new set of societal goals.

Both policy visions are based on research, termed as 'new research' in the policy document of 2005 and also in that of 2009. The new document says that the new research highlights the possibilities of both a vicious and a virtuous circle, operating from the equity of educational opportunities to the equity of income distribution, and from social cohesion to economic growth.

It further states that an affirmation of commitment to Pakistan's egalitarian education vision in the service of all citizens and as a driver of economic and social development can help to produce a virtuous circle of high levels of human and social capital leading to equitable economic growth and social advancement. The education sector policies have to be reoriented if they are not to fall in the vicious circle trap.

The 20 aims and objectives the new vision statement is attached with that were not a feature of the previous policies include revitalising the existing education system with a view to cater to the social, political and spiritual needs of individuals and society; and playing a fundamental role in the preservation of the ideals, which lead to the creation of Pakistan and strengthen the concept of the basic ideology within the Islamic ethos enshrined in the 1973 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Further objectives are to create a sense of unity and nationhood and promote the desire to create a welfare state for the people of Pakistan; promote national cohesion by respecting each others' faith and religion and cultural and ethnic diversity; enable Pakistan to fulfil its commitments to achieve the Dakar Framework of Action EFA Goals and Millennium Development Goals relating to education; widen access to education for all; and improve the quality of education, particularly in its dimension of being relevant to the needs of the economy.

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BSc (Hons) result distinction
Islamabad: The students of University College of Islamabad (UCI) have excelled in the B.Sc. (Hons) examination held under University of London External System, says a press release issued here on Saturday.

Five students of BSc (Hons) got First Class degrees. The examination were held in May-June 2009 in the fields of Accounts, Business, Economics, Economics and Management, Information System Management, and LLB.

Khadija Khan, student of BSc Accounting and Finance, was the leading student, she got 10 distinctions overall and has scored the 4th position in the University of London External System worldwide. Similarly, Syed Ali Aman Zaidi, Komal Ghani, Maha Ahmed and Anam A. Khan also got first Class (Hons). University College of Islamabad students obtained 38 distinction & 55 merits on overall basis. The news

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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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