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10,000 schools opened so far: Ministry targets 20,000 non-formal schools

ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: The Education Ministry will establish 20,000 non-formal schools across the country till 2010 under its new programme 'National Education Foundation' (NEF). Under the old programme, Non-formal Basic Education, 82,000 schools were to be opened but the programme flopped.

NEF Deputy Director Nuzhat Rehman said the previous target could not be met but now almost half of the target had been achieved. "Till now we have opened 10,000 non-formal schools throughout the country which focus on women education," she said. Rehman said previously the age limit for enrolment was five but now it had been increased to 14 for girls and nine for boys. The flexibility in age limit has increased the strength of girl students up to 100 per cent, she claimed.

"In order to improve the standard of education, minimum qualification for teachers is intermediate and salaries have also been doubled. We are giving Rs 4,000 to a matriculate teacher, Rs 5000 to an intermediate teacher and Rs 5,500 to a graduate teacher. Previously, Rs 1,000 was fixed for teachers of all categories," she pointed out.

Rehman said they were focusing on teaching methodology and for this purpose they conducted a six-day workshop every year for teachers besides a 15-day teaching course after their appointment.

Rehman said that NGOs had been involved in the whole mechanism to monitor the quality of education. "The NGOs point out areas needing such institutions and we give them Rs 500 every month for identification of the place and supervision of the school," she said.

Rehman said the government provided books and other necessary items for the schools while there were no compulsions on the students to wear uniforms.

Talking about results, she admitted that their students were not that hopeful and they were trying to improve their pass percentage.

"The pass percentage of our students in the last federal board exam was 34 percent. This is not very encouraging, but we have not given up," she said. Talking about the schedule of these schools, she said they conducted internal exams up to class four and board exams for class five. "The list of the students is made by their teachers and submitted to the federal board, while the exam fee is paid by the government."

She said the targeted time period for teaching up to fifth class was 40 months, eight months for each class unlike the formal studies, which took almost one year for one class. Daily times
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