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Education policy put on hold | High prices of textbooks

Education policy put on hold: Chief ministers' input sought
Islamabad, April 09: Lack of vision, clear objectives and implementation strategy have delayed the national educational policy that was placed before the federal cabinet for its endorsement.

The cabinet on Wednesday postponed the approval of the document until its next meeting.

Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters in Islamabad that to make the education policy more comprehensive, the cabinet had directed the education ministry to send the document to provincial chief ministers for their feedback.

"We want to make new education policy a more comprehensive document by taking every body on board, so that it could be implemented throughout the country," Mr Kaira said, adding that, therefore, it was decided to give the ministry more time.

The federal cabinet would again take up the education policy in its next meeting.

However, sources close to the development revealed that even before the presentation of the draft national education policy to the federal cabinet, ministry officials were not optimistic about the cabinet's decision.

"It was the buzz word in the whole ministry that the policy document does not carry anything in concrete terms, hence, its stands no chance of cabinet's approval, said an official who was involved in the preparation of the document.

"The document largely talks about the present status of education in Pakistan."

In its concluding chapter, the document says that to prevent failure of this policy, an implementation framework, with a follow-up and feedback mechanism, shall be developed.

The basic principles were agreed in the 13th meeting of Inter-Provincial Education Ministers (IPEM) held on May 9, 2008, in Islamabad. The meeting decided and directed that "An action plan will be developed by each province/area and collated at the federal level."

This was the only positive thing in the document which talked about an action plan, but it is also too vague, reason being, the federal cabinet could not endorse the document, the official said.

"The document is not result oriented; it does not speak specifically about its targets which the education ministry has set for itself with in a certain time period," he remarked.

In response to a question, he said during the preparation of the whole document, nobody was there who could provide a leadership role. At times it seems, the whole exercise is being done just to fulfill a formality, he added.

Initially, the portfolio was handed over to Ehsan Iqbal of PML-N, as part of a deal with the PPP-led coalition government. Afterwards, when the PML-N quit the government, Mir Hazar Khan Bajrani was given the charge. Then came the case of Farah Hameed Dogar and the confrontation between the PPP and PML-N in the wake of lawyers' long march, due to which the document could not attract the attention which it deserved, the official said. Dawn

Chapter on Islamic education dropped from new education policy
Islamabad: The government has omitted the whole chapter of Islamic education and other Islamic provisions from the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, awaiting the cabinetís approval for implementation.

The draft policy was to be considered by the federal cabinet in its Wednesday's meeting but the prime minister decided to take it up for consideration and approval in its next cabinet as most of the ministers had not read the draft policy.

Comparison between the National Education Policy 1999 and the draft NEP 2009, which would be implemented for another decade, shows that the Chapter III of the 1999 policy that was precisely dedicated for ìIslamic educationî is simply excluded from the draft 2009 policy.

Besides, some Islamic provisions included in the 1999 policyís Chapter II of ìAims and Objectivesî have also been excluded. The draft policy 2009, also available on the official website of the Ministry of Education, merely includes one Islamic provision in its Chapter II - Overarching Challenges and Responses - which reads as: "The National Education Policy recognises the importance of Islamic values and adheres to the agreed principles in this regard. All policy interventions shall fall within the parameters identified in the Principles of Policy as laid down in Articles 29, 30, 33, 36, 37 and 40 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. These include the need for Muslim children to be provided instructions in Islamiyat to enable them to develop themselves as good Muslims. Similarly, minorities should be provided with facilities to get education of their own religion."

The provisions of Chapter II Aims and Objectives of the NEP 1999, which did not make a part of the draft NEP 2009, include: "The state shall endeavour: i) To make the teachings of the Holy Qur'aan and Islamiat compulsory; ii) to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language; iii) to secure correct and exact printing and publishing of the Holy Qur'aan; iv) to promote unity and the observance of the Islamic moral standards."

The top amongst the NEP 1999 objectives missing from the NEP 2009 is: "To make the Qur'aanic principles and Islamic practices as an integral part of curricula so that the message of the Holy Qur'aan could be disseminated in the process of education as well as training. To educate and train future generation of Pakistan as true practising Muslims, who would be able to enter the next millennium with courage, confidence, wisdom and tolerance."

The Chapter III of the NEP 1999, which is completely missing from the draft NEP 2009, was dedicated to Islamic education. It conveys that Pakistan is an Islamic ideological state so the education policy of the country should secure Islamic ideology, Qur'aanic teachings, teachings and Sunnah of Prophet (SAWS) and be spread. The 1999 policy comprises at least 45 provisions, which discuss in detail how to educate the Muslims of Pakistan so that they could become practising Muslims and could live their lives in line with Qur'aan and Sunnah. It also said that Pakistan is not a secular state so its education system must be focused in line with the teachings of Islam.

The same chapter, now deleted from the draft NEP 2009, also reflected on how the students would be imparted the Qur'aanic education and also suggested a strategy for this. However, most parts of the Chapter II of the NEP 1999 remained unimplemented because of the October 1999 Martial Law of General Musharraf, who had introduced his own philosophy of "Enlightened Moderation" and did not let the implementation of the 1999 policy.

Education Ministry spokesman said the main work on the draft NEP 2009 was done during General Musharrafís tenure while in the present regime it was once discussed by the federal and provincial education ministers, excluding Punjab, which did have an education minister. The spokesman said that none of the provinces had objected to the exclusion of the Islamic provisions and a complete chapter on Islamic education from the existing NEP 1999.

The spokesman dispelled the impression that this exclusion would have been done owing to some foreign pressures. He added that the Islamiat and other Islamic education was part of our curriculum so it did not matter if it was not reflected in detail and as such in the policy.

During Musharrafís tenure, even the Islamic part of curriculum was greatly changed that led to controversies and protests. It was said that besides removing Qur'aanic reference about Jehad, Islamic teaching about freedom, biographies of Islamic heroes and ideology of Pakistan were removed from the syllabi of different education boards by the ousted dictator to please Washington.

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"It is a pity that we spend about 2 to 3 % of the national GDP on education and health. What else do we expect after such a paltry investment? By Sikander Hayat ."
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City, Country: multan, Pakistan

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City, Country: khwazakhela, Pakistan

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Parents bemoan high prices of textbooks
Rawalpindi: The parents of children who have been promoted to the next classes after the announcement of annual results in all the public and private sector schools have appealed to the concerned authorities to check the booksellers for selling notebooks and books on double prices taking undue advantage of their shortage in the market.

A number of parents and their children said that owners of bookshops were taking undue advantage of the new session and were getting huge margin by selling copies and books on almost double prices. They said some textbooks of class 5 to 9 standard were short in the market and those shopkeepers who have these books were taking undue advantage of the situation.

Naveed Aslam, a student of class 8 said that the booksellers were charging double rates of notebooks and registers after changing the price tags," he said and added that some of the books were also short in the market.

Muhammad Riaz said, "I came here to buy new books and copies for my children, but I am astonished to see that the prices of books and copies, which have almost doubled this time. Now it has become very difficult for poor to give good education to their children."

He said, "I have purchased textbooks and some copies for my son who is in 6th standard and the bill of copies and books is around Rs2,100. This is a big amount for a person like me who has to support his 5-member family from around Rs12,000 income. Government should take notice of this situation and control the rates of books and notebooks," he added.

Nasreen Bibi, a housewife said her monthly budget has been disturbed after purchasing new books and copies for her two children. "I could purchase second hand books from old bookshops, but many teachers force students to bring new books, as they are updated."

Malik Nawaz, owner of a bookshop in Urdu Bazaar, Rawalpindi while talking to us said prices of daily used items has also increased for us. "We are also purchasing these books and copies on higher rates. We couldn't bear loss that's why we are selling books and copies on increased rates, but our profit margin is not so high." He said people were blaming them for high prices, but it was not their fault, as prices of all the items had increased so much and it was true that with current inflation it was very difficult for poor to give quality education to their children. The News

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AGP concerned over excessive expense on university games
Islamabad: The auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) has expressed concern over expenses on the 2nd All Pakistan University Games organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The AGP has submitted a special audit report to the Public Accounts Committee, which will be discussed in its next meeting. The report said though the event held from April 11-18, 2005 was successful, there were lapses in budgeting and implementation plan that led to cost escalation. It said, "There was excess expenditure in every category of procurement." The report said the actual expenditure was Rs 25 million against the planned budget of Rs 15 million, showing that services and goods were procured at an 'exorbitant' rate.

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SBP team interacts with FJWU students
Rawalpindi: A group of State Bank of Pakistan's (SBP) officials on Wednesday visited Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU) and interacted with the Economics, MBA and MPA students.

A spokesperson for the FJWU said the visit was meant to build the bank's image as an 'Employer of Choice' and for future recruitment prospects.

Ahsan Kamal, the SBP Human Resources Group head, briefed students on his bank's recruitment and training schemes.

He said the interactive session would help the bank find a workforce of high calibre, competence and effective output.

Dr Ali Chaudhry, the SBP Economic Research Division chief, said his Division provided strong conceptual bases for national economic policymaking.

He said the Division organised seminars and conferences, and liaised with international financial institutions.

Yasir Durrani, Assistant Director of the SBP Talent Management Division, also spoke to the students.

There followed a question and answer session.

Shoaib Akhtar, who heads the FJWU's Public Administration Department, thanked the SBP officials for conducting the session.

He later presented shields to the delegates. Daily Times

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Shifting of college assets opposed
Peshawar: Sarhad College Teachers Association (Scta) has decided to oppose the government's move of shifting the assets of the Government Postgraduate College Mardan to Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU).

A meeting to this effect was held here Wednesday with President Prof Sabz Ali Khan Marwat in the chair, which was attended by Secretary General Prof Muhammad Akram Khan, Senior Vice President Prof Shah Zaman, Vice President Prof Nasrullah Khan and Press Secretary Prof Aurangzeb Shirazi.

Speaking on the occasion, the participants said that though the post of registrar was still lying vacant in AWKU, however notifications were continuously being issued on his behalf. They said no decision would be acceptable without taking Scta into confidence, adding that the government should provide separate building and campus, besides laboratories to the AWKU.

The association members said about 4,000 students were enrolled in the college whereas the government had not only opened university campus in the same college building but also transferred the assets to the varsity which, they added, was a sheer injustice to the students of the college. The News

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