National education policy implementation level
Education system is widening the gap between the rich and the poor
Islamabad, Sep 14: The minister of education has announced the National Education Policy (NEP) for
the next decade. It is interesting that the previous education policy, for the
period of 1998 to 2010, had still not expired.
The justification for a
new policy given by the minister is that the last one was not producing the
required results. But this could be said about all earlier policies which were a
lot of rhetoric and always fell short of reality. Even a layperson would know
that the problem was at the implementation level.
This was the case with
the previous education policy. The goals were quite noble but there was no
political will to realise those goals. Instead of tidying up the implementation
process, the government opted for an easy solution - a new policy. By offering
this, every government gets an opportunity to make attractive promises and
The worth of an education policy is no more than
a political ploy as one can see a 'disconnect' between policies and practices in
Pakistan. For instance, the education policy which now declares that English
should be a compulsory subject is not new as this decision was taken in
Musharraf's regime and was announced by the then education minister, Zobeida
Jalal. Similarly there is a 'disconnect' between policy declarations and budget
allocations. NEP 2010 however, is different from previous education policies on
the count that its process of designing started almost three years before. A
number of seminars and meetings were organised apparently to draw the consensus
of different groups of stakeholders.
The NEP looks like a long wish
list. It's replete with promises ranging from allocation to achievement of
ambitious goals. Those who are familiar with the fate of previous policies
consider the new policy as 'too good to be true'. Let us look at some salient
features of the document. The most important announcement is that the allocation
for education would be seven per cent of the national GDP by 2015.
we trust this statement? Despite our desire, there are problems. If we look at
the trend in the allocation to education in the last three years, we realise the
reason for the reluctance to believe in the promise made by NEP 2010. In 2006-7
the allocation was 2.5 per cent of GDP and in 2007-8 this was reduced to 2.47
per cent. This year (2008-9) the amount further came down to 2.1 per cent of
These declining figures allude to ground realities where one can
see a gaping chasm between professed ideas and actual deeds. Similar good news
was shared by Mr Shaukat Aziz, the then prime minister, who promised that the
allocation to education would be raised to four per cent of GDP. Instead of
catching up with the raised figure, we sadly saw a decline.
suspecting the intentions of the minister of education, one can identify
practical difficulties in releasing the promised amount by the ministry of
finance. Speaking on a TV show, the minister of education admitted that the
dynamics pertaining to the release of funds have not been sorted out. This
aspect becomes all the more important as, in the past, actual release/spending
was far less than the allocated amount.
Another 'too good to be true'
announcement is that the level of public-sector schools will be lifted to match
the levels of good private schools. And the deadline for this humongous task is
2010. Such statements tend to backfire. A natural response to the statement is,
Is there a magic wand which can turn sick units of public schools
into private-sector schools? What does it take to improve the quality? Is it
just buildings, or books, or teachers, or administration, or assessment or
school milieu or a blend of all that constitute the notion of quality? How can
this be done in a year?
Another very ambitious declaration is that, "a
common curricular framework in general as well as professional education will be
applied to educational institutions in both the public and private sectors". The
question remains the same: how? There is no strategy mentioned in the policy
document that could make us believe that this goal is attainable.
NEP claims that the literacy rate will be enhanced to 86 per cent by 2015. This
seems to be another promise which looks good on paper but its implementation is
not that easy. Besides quantitative expansion, i.e. increase in the literacy
rate, it is important to have a specific strategy for qualitative improvement of
education in the country. The policy fails to provide a vision on the most
important issue - social injustice and economic disparity. How can education be
used to reduce gaps between the haves and the have-nots? How can it prepare
thinking human beings? How can it challenge some of the taboos, fixed mindsets,
and intolerance in society? Unfortunately the existing education system is
widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
The central issue that
needed to be tackled in the policy is the educational apartheid: elite and poor
education. So the problem will not be solved by declaring free education up to
matriculation. The issue involves the opportunities a public-sector school gives
to a matriculate as compared to a student who gets an 'O' level certificate from
an elite English-medium school.
The state seems to have given up on its
responsibility to provide education and is thus relying too much on the private
sector. This has turned public-sector schools into sick units. The policy does
not talk about any strategy to bring qualitative improvement in public-sector
educational institutions. On the whole, the policy focuses on the whys and whats
but skilfully ignores the real issues of who and how. One wonders why such a
significant document was not presented in parliament. A thorough discussion in
parliament on the document could have enhanced its ownership and
The writer is a director at Lahore School of Economics and
author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan. -Dr. Shahid Siddiqui firstname.lastname@example.org (Dawn)
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Online technical courses by Pak-China Technology Centre
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday advised that technical
courses offered at the joint Pakistan & China Technology Centre in the country
should also be offered to students from all over the country on the Internet. He
was talking to a delegation of M/S Huawei Technologies of China led by its Chief
Executive Officer Ye Jingyue who called on him at the Presidency. The meeting
was also attended by Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of China in Islamabad.
Technology of China and COMSATS University have jointly launched the Information
Technology Training Programme which will offer multiple courses of short, medium
and long term duration.
Spokesperson to the President
former Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the joint venture was launched in
pursuance of the President's recent visits to China.
Executive Officer of Huawei Pakistan and Chairman COMSATS assured the President
that students from all over the country will be admitted to the courses offered
in the programme.
The programme will reach fully capacity by January next and hundreds of student
would benefit from it every semester. APP
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QAU launches seminar series
Islamabad: Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU)'s Department of Administrative Sciences
(DAS) has launched a weekly seminar series to keep students abreast with latest
trends in corporate world.
The first seminar was held on 'Recruitment
and Selection Process in Corporate World'.
Ayesha Asad, an MBA from the
University of Leicester, UK, with 26 years of practical experience related to
human resource management and administration, shared her experiences with the
students of MBA and MPA.
She said the goal of recruiting was to give
enough information about the job to attract a large number of qualified
applicants and, at the same time, to discourage the unqualified. Daily times
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Private schools colleges hold mehfil-e-naat
Islamabad: Dozens of students from private schools of the capital took part in a
'Naat' Competition organised by All Pakistan Private Schools and Colleges Owners
Association (APPSCOA) at Islamabad Community Centre on
International Human Rights Observer president was the chief guest
on the occasion, while APPSCOA president presided over the Mehfil, said a press
Among the primary level students, Abdul Azeez of Al-Awan Model
School got first position, while Tania Saleem of International Islamic School
stood second. The third position went to Ziauddin of Shan Public
Among the secondary level students, Reema Aurangzeb of Nargas
Foundation won the first position, while Abdul Basit of Abdul Qadir School and
Kunza Mehmood of Margala Valley School stood second and third respectively. APP
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Calligraphy workshop at PNCA
Islamabad: To coincide the Holy month of Ramazan, a three-day calligraphy workshop for
children and adults is being organised here at Pakistan National Council of the
Arts (PNCA) today (Monday).
Master Calligrapher, Muhammed Azeem Iqbal
will conduct the training with a prime focus on different modes and techniques
The certificate distribution ceremony of the workshop
will be held on September 16 with a National Calligraphic exhibition at National
Students from various educational institutions of the twin
cities are invited to attend the workshop in which Azeem Iqbal will deliver
lectures on the history and development of Islamic Arts and their unique place
among the contemporary arts.
Azeem Iqbal is a popular name in the field
of calligraphy who got many awards for his stunning works at home and abroad.
His innovative art highlights the true spirit of Islam, Divine peace, love,
kindness and harmony for all human beings.
"My creative calligraphy art
portrays divine rhythmic beauty and exaltation in the spiritual domain. I am a
self taught artist taking my inspiration from nature and believe that
calligraphy is a field of love and devotion," said Azeem Iqbal.
introduced a unique and new dimensional style in the Islamic Calligraphy
covering the golden era of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to the present century," he
Azeem Iqbal has presented his latest masterpieces with the
title 'Ahad-e-Nabwi', which blends natural elements to accentuate the divinity
association with calligraphic art. The news
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