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Lack of seriousness in education policy implementation

Nothing new in the National Education Policy 2009
Lahore, Sep 12: The National Education Policy (NEP) 2009 on the one hand has nothing new to offer and on the other lacks seriousness and commitment to its implementation.

Also, the federal cabinet's announcement that the budgetary allocation for education sector would be raised to seven per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2015 is nothing more than a wish-list, which sets no milestones on an annual basis. Similar is the case with the target of enhancing literacy rate to 85 per cent by 2015.

This was the crux of comments obtained from senior educationists, politicians and academics here on Friday.

Former Punjab University vice-chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Hameed Sheikh said the budget utilisation for the education sector was as low as 1.7 per cent of the GDP, for which reasons needed to be identified, whether it was due to a lack of capacity to spend budget or budget itself was released late. As the policy did not set targets on an annual basis and claim substantial allocation at seven per cent of the GDP by 2015. He said the policy lacked a strategy for its implementation.

Former education minister Imran Masood said the NEP 2009 was merely a fill in the blank. He said the policy had nothing new to offer: it just announced steps that were already taken and being implemented in Punjab by the previous government.

As announced in the NEP, he said, the previous Punjab government had already launched the programme of introducing medium of English language in public sector schools, the project of free textbooks for all public sector school students of Class-I to Class-X.

He said the previous government started providing infrastructure in schools at a massive scale, launched teachers' training programme and enhanced the qualification for teachers to be recruited at elementary and secondary level, but the present government was also boasting of introducing all these steps.

He said the previous government made efforts to improve the quality of education by upgrading curricula and teachers' training.

Referring to government's decision to make Classes XI and XII part of the school education, Masood said this policy would reduce the capacity of colleges as the government would be recruiting teachers for higher secondary schools, while the teachers' strength at colleges would start decreasing. "There were only 250 higher secondary schools in Punjab, which the previous government wanted to minimise because they were not worth consideration." He stated that there was a great difference of profile among students doing intermediate from colleges and those studying intermediate classes at higher secondary schools.

Masood also stated that present government's implementation level and commitment remained too low during the last two years.

Admitting that the previous government could not streamline the seminary education, he said the NEP surprisingly reflected that seminaries would be dealt with by the interior ministry. He said the previous government had registered some 250 seminaries. He said the present government neither gave any long-term sectoral programme nor opened engineering colleges, research centres and planning institutions. He said the government should adopt different strategies to increase enrolment, enhance literacy rate and reduce drop-out rate. In order to enhance literacy rate to 85 per cent by 2015, he said the government needed to activate NGOs and private sector because the existing strategy would not lead the government to anywhere with regard to achievement of this goal.

Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association president Nazim Hasnain criticised the federal cabinet for approving NEP 2009 that put forth a highly illogical decision of making Classes XI and XII part of the school education. He said the college teachers had an experience of teaching FA/ FSc classes for long besides a huge infrastructure of science laboratories and other facilities were available in colleges. He said this decision would lessen the utility of those science laboratories and other intermediate level facilities, while put a huge financial burden to create those facilities in schools.

He said the government was playing with the education system while keeping the real stakeholders at a distance. "This policy will completely destroy the education system in the country," he said.

Hasnain said the education standards could never be improved through "education emergency" but through consultation with all stakeholders and motivating them by offering them their due rights.

Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Private Schools Welfare Association (APPSWA) on Friday organised a seminar to review the NEP 2009.

The speakers had a consensus that the government had miserably failed to develop a comprehensive NEP that could meet the needs and requirements of the country, while keeping in view the ground realities.

They said the NEP was hollow and based on wishful claims while the private sector was totally ignored in the new policy. They said the government must remember that it could not achieve the target of 85 per cent literacy without active participation of the private sector. Dawn

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All provinces supported education policy
Lahore: Provincial Minister for Education Mian Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman has said that for the first time the National Education Policy has been prepared in consultation with all the provinces and Punjab has played an active and leading role in its preparation.

He was speaking at the launch of Split Degree Programme jointly initiated by Superior University and York St John University, UK, here on Friday. Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal, Rector Superior University Dr Abdul Rehman, Pro Rector Dr Sikandar Khan and Deputy Vice Chancellor York St John University Dr David Maughan Brown were also present.

The education minister said the split degree programme would enable Pakistani students to benefit from the British university at low finances.

He said the Punjab government was taking revolutionary steps for promotion of education and maximum resources were being utilized for the purpose.

Mujtaba also appreciated management of the Superior University for providing quality education in the fields of commerce, computer science and law, etc.

Speaking on the occasion Dr Abdul Rehman said under the split degree programme Pakistani students would be getting degree of British university at affordable fee.

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Reforms in fee structure of private schools
Islamabad: On the directives of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, a comprehensive package of reforms recommendations regarding regulatory mechanism and financial matters including fixation of category-wise fee structure for private schools in Punjab has been framed. Special Task Force for Education has submitted the package of reforms to the CM.

The package has been framed to redress the public complaints about unprecedented high fees being taken by these private educational institutions.

Presently, the provincial government has no power to take action against registered private schools on increasing their monthly tuition fees by 30% to 45%. The recommendations regarding private schools reforms framed by the CM's Task Force embodies fee fixation for private schools in accordance with their assigned category to provide financial relief to the parents.

Executive District Education Officer Rawalpindi, Malik Muhammad Ashraf said that on approval of these recommendations the concerned officials will have powers to regulate such institutions.

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Law College hosts Iftar dinner
Lahore: Punjab University Law College arranged a meeting of the visiting faculty and full time teachers on the commencement of new session 2009-10 here at Dr Pervaiz Hassan Environmental Law Centre. The meeting,followed by Iftar-Dinner, was presided over by Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran. Prof Dr Ehsan Malik, Ms Shazia Qureshi and Samee Uzair also attended the meeting and Iftar-Dinner, stated a press release. APP

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Calligraphic exhibition
Lahore: The Pakistan National Council of the Arts, Shakir Ali Museum, is holding an exhibition titled "Khatati plus Naqashi" on Saturday, depicting the sacred art of illumination and decoration along with the meticulous flowing style of Arabic calligraphy.

The exhibition is of students from the Naqsh School of Arts which is a unique institution and of high standard, teaching fine arts to the youth of the Walled city against a very nominal fee.

They have succeeded in bringing forth skilful calligraphists. Federal Secretary Culture, Moin ul Islam Bokhari, will be the chief guest at the show. The guests of honour include prominent calligraphists Aslam Kamal, Ahmed Khan and Khursheed Gohar Kalam. Some 45-50 artworks will be put on display. The news

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