Cambridge International Primary Programme
We are committed to keeping education accessible
Jan 24: Wide disparity in the availability and quality of education available in
Pakistan has been a subject of debate for some time now. The fact that there are
various parallel systems in place has added to the reigning confusion and
whenever a new system is proposed, several concerns are raised.
Ann Puntis, chief executive of the University of Cambridge International
Examinations, who was recently in Pakistan to introduce a new programme for
students of the primary level, told this reporter that the system, dubbed the
Cambridge International Primary Programme, was designed to accommodate and
respect local sensitivities.
"We wouldn't have expanded in the way in
which we have over the years if we were insensitive to local (culture). I think
probably the most important sensitivity is that we don't try to do everything.
We provide English, maths, science … a sort of spine of the curriculum. But the
local cultural studies, social studies, even art and creative subjects are from
the Pakistani perspective. It would be quite negative to impose a complete
programme on schools. We work in partnership," she said.
background of the primary programme, she said it was designed to ensure a smooth
transition between primary and secondary level students.
"For so many
years we've had secondary school qualifications and they've proved enormously
successful. A little while ago schools in Pakistan asked whether we could
develop primary provision so that they were sure they had coherence in their
schools from (age) five up to 18.
"So we developed the primary programme
first of all to meet the needs of schools in Pakistan and then, because it was
so well-liked and adopted, we internationalised it."
As for the response
from Pakistani schools to the programme: "The take-up of the primary programme
is strong in Pakistan but it's strong in lots of other countries – in New
Zealand, in Argentina. The schools in Pakistan who take the programme become
part of a global community."
She clarified that the programme has not
been implemented in schools "following the local curriculum. It is implemented
in local schools following the Cambridge programme."
She added that the
programme specifically focussed on the fact that for the local students, English
would be a second language.
"In the English programme we recognise that
students are working in their second language so we're very sensitive to that.
Also in terms of the maths provision, we had to think very carefully and talk to
the schools quite closely about what the sequence of maths education was so that
the introduction of algebra and geometry is appropriate to schools and to the
teachers as the teachers have to feel comfortable with it."
said her organisation also offers teacher training but pointed out that perhaps
this area could do with greater focus.
"I'm honest enough to say the
amount we provide (for teacher training) could probably be doubled or tripled to
meet teachers' expectations because they're certainly really hungry for this
type of provision. We're a university educating not just students but the
teachers (as well). We provide as much as we can."
How has the
organisation's interaction with the Pakistani government been like?
work with the federal board. We've been talking to them about whether the way in
which we write our examination papers could be something that we discuss
together. We also work with the Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen so that
matters of equivalence and the sharing of best practice are well-developed. The
development of syllabuses such as Islamiat and Urdu are areas where we very
closely have to take government requirements into consideration."
quite recently, there was a perception that the Cambridge programme and similar
systems were limited to the elite of Pakistan and were beyond the reach of the
majority of citizens. Ms Puntis said there was an effort within her organisation
to make quality education accessible to as many people as possible. "The
university is very committed to access. It doesn't want to see itself as
offering elite provision around the world. The more (our programme) impacts
people's lives, the better we feel about it. It's not affordable by everyone, I
do understand that, but (we are) pretty committed to keeping things
On a more personal note, Ann Puntis said that she has quite
a personal link with Pakistan as this was "the very first country I visited on
appointment as chief executive. I came in 2005 just after the earthquake. I was
really pleased to make that my first port of call. It's a country pretty dear to
my heart. I care about education and I think Pakistan does too." QAM
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BZU dean and syndicate posts lying vacant
Multan: The Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) has failed to
appoint the Islamic studies and languages dean and to nominate one syndicate
The post has been vacant even after the passage of seven months
after the expiry of Dr GR Pasha's three-year tenure as dean on June 22,
The university administration sent the list of deans to the
governor for the appointment of a member of syndicate in July and another two
reminders in October and November, but the governor has yet to finalise the
Similarly, the post of the dean of the Islamic studies and
languages has also been laying vacant after the expiry of Dr Zaffar Iqbal's
three-year tenure on Oct 7, 2008.
The university proposed Dr Zaffar
Iqbal, Dr Nooruddin Jami and Dr Muhammad Sharif Sialvi for the slot and sent
their name to the governor on Oct 14.
In the meantime, Dr Rubina Tareen
(Urdu department) approached the governor, saying that her service had also
started with Dr Nooruddin Jami so she was also eligible for deanship. The
chancellor directed the university to include Dr Rubina in the nominees for the
deanship. Her name was later included on the list against the university rules
as if there are two people with same joining date, the older one in age would be
The university administration received a letter from
the Governor's Secretariat deputy secretary (admin), Riaz Husain Tahir, on Dec
30 that existing ordnances/acts and statutes of the Public Sector Universities
in Punjab do not provide for any specific criteria for the appointment of deans
by the governor that causes difficulty in selecting the most suitable candidate
for appointment as a dean. To make the selection of dean transparent and
merit-based, the governor secretariat has evolved new criteria.
the criteria there are 10 marks for length of service, 20 for research
publications, 40 for academic performance, 10 for annual confidential reports
for the last five years and 20 marks were for educational administration. It was learnt that the university has sent the marks of all four candidates to the
BZU Registrar Malik Munir said the university had sent
letters to the chancellor for the appointment of the dean and for the nomination
of one syndicate member. He admitted that the name of Dr Rubina was included in
the list at later stages.
Injury to student: teachers exonerated
Khanewal: Kabirwala Deputy District Officer Azra Bano on Friday
absolved two teachers (one of them also headmistress) of ordering a schoolgirl
to cut fodder for their cattle through a machine that chopped off the girl's
The incident took place at the Government Primary School of
Qitta Tehsildar, Mauza Gobindpur, about 40 kilometres from here.
inquiry report, the DDO said she visited the school on information that
eight-year-old Samina Parveen has had her fingers chopped off while obeying the
command of her teachers. During a visit to the school, she found that the
machine was kept at an adjacent outhouse.
A few days ago many students
were playing there during break and Samina and some other students started
cutting fodder with the machine. Samina's two fingers went chopped off by the
blades and her fellows informed headmistress Irshad Bano and teacher Azra Bibi
who took the girl to a private dispensary.
Having found no doctor there,
the headmistress took the girl to a dispenser who provided first-aid to the girl
and sent her home. The report said the charges levelled against the teachers
couldn't be proved, except negligence and irresponsible attitude on the part of
the teachers who allowed the girls to go outside.
"The charges of
ordering Samina to cut fodder couldn't be proved as she herself admitted that
she was playing with the machine. However, the teachers are responsible for
allowing students to go outside," said EDO (Education) Shakoor Anjum.
informed that the inquiry conducted by the DDO was fair and transparent.
"We have already suspended from service the headmistress and the teacher." Dawn
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