More than 12,700 schools non-functional: survey

More than 12,700 schools non-functional: survey
Islamabad, June 11, 2008: The Economic Survey for 2007-08 released here on Tuesday revealed a staggering number of 12,737 non-functional public sector educational institutions out of a total of 231,289, with Sindh having the largest share of 58 per cent (7,387) of them.

Of these 12,737 non-functioning institutions, 11,589 are public schools while 1,148 are other educational institutions.

Pakistan Education Statistics 2007 suggests that out of a total number of 231,289 educational institutions, 164,579 are in the public sector while 81,103 are in the private sector. (The figure does not include technical professional, vocational, polytechnic institutions, non-formal basic education schools and deeni madaris).

About 37.8 per cent schools in the public sector are without boundary walls, 32.3 per cent without drinking water, 56.4 without electricity, 40.5 per cent without latrines and 6.8 per cent without even buildings.

Considering higher percentage of population as majority of these institutions are in rural areas, the availability of basic facilities are inadequate, the survey noted and called for providing the missing facilities to such institutions. It also highlighted the need for reducing current imbalances of school facilities at various levels in different provinces.

About physical infrastructure of educational institutions, the survey said 83 per cent public schools are housed in government buildings while 5.7 per cent in rent-free buildings. In contrast, private institutions are predominantly situated either in rented buildings (43.1 per cent) or owned (42.8 per cent) buildings or 11.6 per cent in rent-free accommodations.

The survey revealed that 5.7 per cent buildings that housed educational institutions were in dangerous conditions with most of them in Balochistan. Rest of the 51.6 per cent buildings are in satisfactory conditions but 42.7 per cent need major or minor repairs.

It said the role of public sector is more dominant in promoting education than the private sector. The share of public schools is also higher in rural areas.

The survey highlighted the need for enhancing the role of the private sector by providing incentives and introducing innovative schemes like education vouchers to encourage healthy competition between public and private sector to help improve both the quantity and quality of education.

At the primary level, the public sector dominates with 86 per cent primary schools as compared to 14 per cent in the private sector. At the middle level, only 37 per cent schools are in the public sector as compared to 63 per cent in the private sector.

However, at the vocational or polytechnics level, the share of private sector is higher (70 per cent) than the public sector. Almost all the deeni madaris (97 per cent) are in the private sector.

The survey said deeni madaris reform programme was initiated by the previous government with the introduction of formal education in 8,000 seminaries to mainstream them through grants, salaries to teachers, cost of textbooks, teacher training and equipment. According to the survey, literacy rate in Pakistan has improved in recent years at a moderate pace and the overall literacy rate (10 years and above) has been increased to 55 per cent in 2006-07 (67 per cent for males and 42 per cent for females) as compared to 54 per cent in 2005-06. Literary remains higher in urban areas (72 per cent) than in rural areas (45 per cent) and more among men (67 per cent) compared to women (42 per cent). Dawn

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QAU closing MSc American Studies programme
Islamabad: Area Study Centre for Africa, North and South America of the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) has decided to close MSc in Political Science and American Studies programme this year, though it has been popular among students since it inception in 2002, officials have said.

They said no new admissions would be called in this programme after completion of the current session. They said it was strange that the relevant authorities came to know that they had no mandate to run an MSc programme at the centre after about six years.

They said the authorities were of the view that the centre was meant for only MPhil and PhD programmes. However, Dr Rasool Bux Rais, who had designed the programme, said on telephone that the programme proved very helpful to put out talented students for MPhil and PhD classes. He said, "It is pity that the programme is being closed instead of merging it with an independent department to continue its valuable service. The authorities are unable to retain capable teachers and this has resulted in it implementing such a destructive initiative."

He said he got the programme approved from the QAU board of governors (BOG) after three years of constant efforts. The programme, he said, meant to provide an opportunity for better studies to students coming from all over the country. He said, "The authorities are unable to retain capable teachers at the centre that has resulted into taking such a destructive initiative."

He said the BOG was fully authorised to approve any programme and it was irrational to close a successful programme on account of 'mandate'. Official sources said the programme was beneficial as it had produced very competent students, some of whom passed CSS examination with distinction. They said only five out of 50 students were once enrolled in the programme due to shortage of teachers. A senior official said, "The programme is being closed due to poor policies and lack of sincerity on part relevant authorities."

Around 300 students have obtained degrees of MSc in Political Science and American Studies so far, he said. He said, "United States Education Foundation (USEF) has offered students visits to the US so that they can gain a better understanding of the area in which they are studying, but the director refused this offer, claiming that students might not come back."

He said the authorities could have merged the programme into that of International Relations instead of closing it. He said four lecturers and assistant professors had been appointed for the project and their fate was now hanging in balance besides the students who would have benefited from the programme.

Dr Nauman Sattar, a faculty member of the Area Study Centre for Africa, North and South America, said the programme for MSc in Political Science and American Studies had been abolished following orders of the BOG. He said, "The board has ordered that the centre does not have the mandate to run the programme and it should only continue its research work." He said the programme was very helpful to produce talented students for M Phil and PhD programmes. Daily Times

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