Every 4th out-of-school child belongs to Pakistan
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA, Asad Umer, has said that there is need of strong determination and restless efforts to enrol 25 million out of school children in the country. Addressing the Optics Convention here at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology on Sunday, Umer expressed sorrow over the fate and dark future of out of school children. The entire society should play its role in educating these children because they belong to Pakistan and future of the country depends upon them, he said. "Every fourth out of school child across the world belongs to Pakistan," he remarked. However, he did not elaborate how many children were out of schools in each province, tribal belt and Islamabad. Similarly, he also did not explain how many children were out of school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where PTI has a coalition government and recently launched an enrolment drive.
IPC says education is a provincial subject
In reply to a call by a parliamentary panel to ensure coherent and flawless curricula in all four provinces, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) on Saturday said it had little say in the matter after the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment. The IPC told the Senate Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination that after devolution of education to the provinces, any such attempt by the ministry might be regarded as interference in a provincial subject. “The leader of opposition and Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Raza Rabbani is also not in favor of such interference. He told me several times that it was against the spirit of 18th Amendment and it is tantamount to a compromise on provincial autonomy,” said the IPC Minister Reyaz Hussain Pirzada.
Alluring children to read
The quality of education in Pakistan, often analogous to the curriculum might not be the sole reason for poor reading habits. Although there has been an increase in the number, most children’s books do not have what it takes to attract readers. At the session, “Children’s Literature is No Child’s Play,” moderated by Amra Alam, children’s writers, Saman Shamsie, Rumana Husain and Fauzia Minallah discussed ways to spark interest in books. Stressing on the importance of supplementary reading, writers suggested creating reading space and public libraries to encourage children to read. Shamsie said that supplementary reading must be made a part of the curriculum. Adding to that, Minallah said teachers in both public and private sector need training to make learning interactive for children. Writing for children requires sensitivity and skill to teach them a lesson they will not forget, she added. She stressed on the need to revamp the curriculum to expunge lessons which encourage extremist views and engender intolerance.
Free education for kids to stay elusive
The Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2013 in Pakistan’s most populous province that may bind the government to ensure education to children aged 5-16 years in the province has been consigned to cold storage, and there is no indication of having it passed from the Punjab Assembly in the near future. Sources say the bill had been passed by the Punjab cabinet in its previous tenure and consequently presented before the Punjab Assembly. However, the assembly was dissolved after its five-year tenure. Since then, there seems no progress on the subject. Only Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood had in February stated the Right to Education Bill, already passed by the Punjab cabinet, would be presented before the Punjab Assembly for approval in the first week of March.
PTI’s education emergency in KP yields no concrete results
No visible improvement has been witnessed anywhere in the province and not a single project of significance could be launched for promotion of education since an ‘education emergency’ was clamped in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government. Provincial Minister for Education Mohammad Atif Khan, in his recent presentation to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, presented a dismal picture of the situation and showed his inability to overcome it. According to him, about 3,365 schools destroyed by the 2005 earthquake, floods and militancy needed reconstruction, 1,008 schools have no building at all and are referred to as shelterless schools while 30 percent of the total 28,500 schools have no boundary walls at all. “We need 22,000 more schools in the province for the out-of-school children. We also need to construct 20,000 more rooms in the existing facilities to accommodate the increasing number of students. It would cost Rs1.3 million to construct one room and the provincial government doesn’t have funds,” he remarked.
Education budget to be increased: Ahsan
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government would increase the education budget to four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) within the next five years. He said Pakistan lagged behind in the field of education because the dictatorial regimes didn’t allocate sufficient resources for this sector. He was addressing the inaugural session of the three-day National Optics convention organised by the Society for Photo-Optical and Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology at Topi. Earlier, he inaugurated the building of the central mess of the institute. The building of the mess was constructed at a cost of Rs120 million.
Govt accords top priority to higher education: President
President Mamnoon Hussain has reiterated firm commitment of the government to accord topmost priority to the promotion of higher education and called upon the heads of the universities to focus on bringing out the latest and quality research in all fields and develop an educational system that is more compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy in the country. The President said this during a meeting with the 3rd group of heads of leading universities and degree awarding institutes of the country here at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday. The heads of universities who called on the president included Jahangir Bashar, rector GIK Institute of Engineering, Science & Technology, Swabi, Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad, rector National Textile University, Faisalabad, Dr Najma Najam, vice chancellor Karakorum International University, Gilgit, and Prof Hina Tayyaba, vice chancellor Pakistan Institute of Fashion & Design, Lahore. Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, chairman Higher Education Commission, was also present during the meeting.
UK’s contribution to education in Pakistan special focus on girls’ education highlighted
The United Kingdom is investing heavily in Pakistan’s education sector with special focus on girls’ education. This was disclosed by Philip Barton, the UK high commissioner in Pakistan, while speaking at a reception held to celebrate the 88th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the meticulously manicured lawns of the UK High Commission amid a balmy ocean breeze on Thursday evening. “Around 100,000 Pakistani students sit for British exams annually, providing Pakistani youngsters with internationally recognised qualifications,” said Barton. “By 2015, aid from the UK will benefit four million
2nd ILF concludes with a call to revive literary activities
The three-day Second Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF) ended in success with a resolve to revive literary activities in the country and to preserve regional literature ignored in the past. A variety of versatile and interactive sessions was held at the literary festival and almost all genres of literature were discussed by famous writers, intellectuals and artists.The last day of the ILF attracted a reasonable numbers of literature lovers from the twin cities, who participated in the festival with zeal and zest. The last day also saw different sessions, book launch ceremonies, drama presentations, poetry recitations and personality discussions to celebrate literature in all its delightful forms.While addressing the concluding session, the organiser, Oxford University Press Managing Director (MD) Ameena Saiyid, termed the success of KLF and ILF a positive sign, which means “Pakistan is a safe and secure country for any festival”.
No place for Pakhtun leaders in KP syllabus anymore
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elementary and secondary education department is understood to have decided to remove chapters on Pakhtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his poet son, Ghani Khan, from the Pashto book for 12th grade in the province, it is learnt. The revised book will be introduced in local educational institutions at the start of the next academic year, according to sources. The chapters on the life of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as Bacha Khan, a preacher of nonviolence, and his son, Ghani Khan, a philosopher, Pashto poet and sculptor, were included in the 12th grade Pashto book to inform Pakhtun youths about their leaders. People in the know said chapters on Bacha Khan and Ghani Khan were part of the curriculum, which was developed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Text Book Board in 2009 at the request of the federal government.
Exorbitant prices of books, stationery perturb parents
The exorbitant prices of textbooks and stationery with an advent of new academic year have annoyed most of the parents who hardly manage their resources to provide quality education to their children. The parents lament the fact that there is no authority to check the uncontrollable prices of textbooks and stationary, saying that it has limited their purchasing capacity in prevailing price hike situation. Talking to APP, Humaira, a mother of three school going children said they are already worried due to raising dearness day by day and increase in prices of textbooks and stationary items, are a big issue for the parents who have to pay a large amount on the start of new session. There is no criteria of raising fee in private schools and the owners also charge money in the name of admission fee, examination fee, funds etc at the start of new classes, she said. “Last year I purchased the Class-II sylabus and other stationary for around Rs 3,000 which has now exceeded upto Rs 5,000. She added earlier parents use the books of elder children for their younger ones but the private schools have made it compulsory for every child to have his own new books which is an extra burden on parents pockets.
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CDA engages teachers for dengue fight
As part of behaviour change strategy to fight dengue in Islamabad’s urban areas, the Capital Development Authority’s health services directorate has developed a group of teacher master trainers. “We want to use schoolchildren for the execution of domestic dengue prevention strategies. Development of teacher master trainers is part of these strategies. We believe general public behaviour change will bring the real change in health care,” Dr Hasan Orooj, director at the CDA health services directorate, told ‘The News’. Dr Hasan reiterated that general public behaviour change will bring real change. He said the directorate was striving to ensure that Islamabad maintain the status of the low dengue burden city. “With strict preventive measures in place, the burden of dengue disease in Islamabad’s urban area is very less compared to nearby cities and areas,” he said.
Women teachers told to fill seats at inauguration of sports festival
The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has instructed the principals of all women educational institutions to send their teachers to the Sports Complex to fill the seats during the inaugural ceremony of an sports festival on Monday. Most of the teachers of colleges have been directed to reach the venue at 2pm but they were not informed how long they would have to sit there. The FDE has organised the three-day sports gala for female students. However, the chief guest for the inaugural ceremony could not be finalised when this report was filed on Sunday evening. The Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) was trying to get an assurance from Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman to be the chief guest. A teacher of the Islamabad Model College for Girls F-7/4 requesting not to be identified said the FDE had sent a letter to the college stating that buses were required for the three-day sports event.
Gang supplying narcotics to educational institutes busted
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) has busted a criminal gang supplying heroin to boys and girls of prominent schools and colleges in Islamabad.ANF’s Commander Brig Ramzan Gill briefed the media personnel on Friday, informing it that the network was led by a person named Idrees who was arrested on Thursday. “The gang was supplying drugs to kids as young as 10 year old in prestigious educational institutions of the capital,” he added.The gang even induced many boys and girls and was supplying heroin in schools and colleges of posh areas of the city. The ANF officials produced before the media the ring leader, his co-accused and heroin recovered from their possession. It was told that when Idrees was arrested, his cell phone was constantly ringing getting calls from kids asking for drugs. “The ANF would provide medical treatment to the boys and girls who were taking heroin from this network,” Gill said. He said that the names of the educational institutions where the drug pushers were supplying heroin would not be revealed. He said that during the crackdown in April against the drug pushers, 53 kilogrammes of heroin and 39 kg of hash were seized and 15 accused were arrested in several operations in the region
Teachers sent to Adiala for leaking exam paper
The Rawalpindi anti-corruption court turned down a request asking for the seven-day physical remand of five teachers accused of leaking an English language exam prepared by the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC), this Thursday. A physical remand would have allowed investigators to interrogate the accused teachers. Instead, the court has sent the teachers to Adiala Jail on a 14-day judicial remand and has fixed the matter for May 9. The anti-corruption establishment (ACE), Rawalpindi, produced the five teachers before special judge Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan and asked for a seven-day physical remand so that they may interrogate the teachers. However, their request was denied. "We applied for a seven-day physical remand but the court rejected our request, saying that there is nothing recoverable from the accused and so there is no question of physical remand," said Mohammad Waseem, an investigator. Speaking to Dawn after the hearing, he said that without questioning the teachers it would not be possible to determine who else was behind the scam.
Transfers to far-flung schools irk female teachers
Scores of female teachers teaching in government-run schools have been facing immense troubles due to their transfers in educational institutions located far from their houses. They demanded of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab education department (PED) to withdraw their transfer orders and allow them to impart education to students in schools, which are near to their houses. A female teacher taking to The Nation on Friday on condition of anonymity said that she lived in Lalkurti area. She said she had been teaching at a school at Jhanda Cheechi for the last many years but the government in an unprecedented move had transferred her to a Chakri school, 45-km away from her home. "I am facing problems in going to Chakri daily, as no transport is available for the location where I have been transferred," she added. She said that she approached the authorities concerned to get her transfer orders cancelled; however, no action had been taken so far.
The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and the Cholistan Development Authority (CDA) on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide free education to almost 4,500 students enrolled in 75 non-formal community schools in Cholistan area in Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan districts. The MOU was signed at the Bahawalpur district coordination office and DCO Imran Sikandar Baloch, CDA Managing Director Iqbal Hussain, PEF Managing Director Dr Aneela Salman and PEF Finance Deputy Managing Director Salman Anwar Malik. The MOU was signed by Hussain and PEF Director Waqar Azeem on behalf of their organisations. The schools will be monitored under the PEF’s New School Programme. Salman said that the PEF will give the CDA Rs360 for each student for first three months. After that, the organisations will enter a long-term tri-partite arrangement to ensure that the students, most of whom belong to the low-income strata, continue to receive free education. According to the agreement, 3,000 girls and 1,500 boys will be provided free education till matriculation level.
Schools under watch by Tahir Ali
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has launched an Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province. The IMU has been established under a three-year project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500 million have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget(s). The project will be extended if found useful after a third-party verification. Rs100 million have also been earmarked for establishing a third-party monitoring mechanism. Muhammad Atif Khan, Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, says 475 IMU monitors — 303 men and 172 women — have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30,000 a month. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10,000 fuel allowance.
Education alternative by Asma Ghani
The question of quality in education is something that is discussed ever so often but a plausible mechanism that can be put in place to ensure quality education – a simple and straight formula – is yet to be found. In developing countries such as Pakistan, this debate becomes even more rigorous since the quality of education provided in public schools, operated by the government, is extremely substandard. Stories of children spending multiple years trying to pass a single grade are common. Most children barely understand a single concept when they pass out after 16 years of education. While private schools are also not exempt from criticism in this regard, it is children in public schools coming from the lower end of the economic strata that suffer the most. Their parents do not have the resources that might help the child get ahead in life — quality education being the source of better opportunities in life.
Some stark realities
around 5.5 million children of school going age could not be enrolled in schools. These statistics speak volumes of the priority the government gives to human rights, especially to minorities, women and education. And unless we improve on these our survival shall remain in danger. The paradox is that on the one hand we want Pakistan to become the fortress of Islam and on the other our practices are such that only two years back in 2012 Pakistan was declared disastrous for religious and ethnic minorities, weak and vulnerable groups and marginalized communities. The situation has not changed since. According to the HRCP report in 2013, 869 women were killed in the name of honour, and some 800 women committed suicide.
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Alif Ailaan supporting enrollment drive in Multan, Punjab