Minister Seeks Input for Pakistan’s National Education Policy

Posted on April 21, 2008
Filed Under >Aqil Sajjad, Education
59 Comments
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Aqil Sajjad

The new education minister, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, has invited public comments on the national education policy. The draft of the policy document can be found here.

It is hoped that we will have a fruitful discussion on this issue and ideas for improvement in the national education policy here at Pakistaniat, possibly leading some of the participants to even give some valuable suggestions to the education ministry.

I hope to read the document in the coming days, but in the mean time, here are some general thoughts on how we should approach such issues.

We would love to have instant reform, which unfortunately is not possible. Our suggestions and criticism should be made while keeping this basic reality in mind. We can however break down reforms into short and long-term ones and see what can realistically be achieved over what time frame.

Secondly, there is absolutely no denying that funding is important, but the utilization of existing funds is also equally important. We have a tendency to overemphasize the shortage of money and use it as a convenient excuse for a lack of serious effort for institution building and the failure to make proper use of available resources. As a general rule, we should always be weary of overly steep increases in funding. Too much money going in too fast, though good for making impressive news headlines for the concerned ministry, can often lead to more corruption and institutional decay instead of bringing about a genuine improvement.

So while the education budget certainly needs to be increased to at least 4% of GDP as soon as possible, it must not be forgotten that such an increase by itself will not lead to much improvement if there is no prior ground work for ensuring that the extra money will not just be wasted away through corruption and inefficiency. And such ground work will inevitably require a bit of slowing down and setting achievable targets instead of unrealistic ones.

A somewhat related concern relates to how we see ‘big picture’ ideas as opposed to apparently smaller and basic things that are not even very hard to implement, but can make a significant impact. Both are very important, but we sometimes grossly underestimate and dismiss the simpler, but less grand ideas by saying that they do not ‘address the big picture’ or some other such ridiculous criticism. In the end, the ‘fundamental paradigm shift’ or ‘revolution’ does not materialize, but we also forego the smaller and incremental but more achievable improvements that can accumulate into something substantial over time.

Lastly, a good education policy should produce socially aware individuals and not just money making robots. We need people who can have the sense to start thinking ahead before an economic bubble bursts, before the severity of an energy crisis hits them right in the face and before a food shortage leads to a famine or violent riots and are willing to make compromises to their personal lifestyles and start agitating for badly needed policy reforms for their own selves if not out of any concern for the society.

References:

1. Ministry of Education, Pakistan
2. Photos for this post are from flickr.com

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59 responses to “Minister Seeks Input for Pakistan’s National Education Policy”

  1. Obaid1 says:

    For one ban all religious and political activities in educational institutions;

    At Top University, a Fight for Pakistan’s Future
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/world/asia/21uni versity.html

  2. Watan Aziz says:

    67 pages of useless talk, repeated since 1947

    The document contains 237 “shalls” and 73 “wills” for an average of 4.62 per page.

    Here is a sampling:
    1. A framework setting out the basic standards for school facilities and teaching aid materials shall be established by 2012 and shall form the basis for allocation of funds.
    2. All schools shall establish a school mission that assists students in achieving their learning potential and personality development as the key goals. Pursuant to this, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities shall be made a mandatory part of the entire learning process.
    3. A concept of service to the society shall be introduced.
    4. Student-teacher ratios shall be standardized and enforced at school level.
    5. An awareness campaign against corporal punishment shall be initiated and teachers shall be held accountable for violations.
    6. A study for analyzing the impact of modern media on children with a view to realize its potential to help in attaining the objectives of the education system shall be undertaken. This must encapsulate the negative impacts and the possible ways to mitigate them.
    7. A code of conduct shall be established which shall enable student unions to participate in healthy activities without affecting the environment of the educational institutions.

    Get rid of all the shalls and wills.

    Start using “are” and “is”.

  3. M. Maqsood says:

    I think the most important thing that the education policy makers in the country should focus on is educating the teachers on (1) curriculum and instruction, (2) proper assessment, both formative and summative, (3) proper use of technological resources including educational software for better teaching and awareness of what’s going on in the world in their respective subject areas.

    The other important thing is the utilization of well-trained and highly educated human resources for the development of a national curriculum that is used in all provinces. National assessment should be aligned to the curriculum, and high priority should be given to the development of test items for secondary and higher secondary high-stakes examinations.

    The government should make all the latest work-in-progress documents publicly available in easy to navigate through websites, so that people could see where the government stands in relation to its plans.

    Availability of coherent, and updated national education statistics on the Ministry of Education website is very important for academics and practitioners to use and reflect on.

    I could run out of ideas to contribute to the education system in the country, and I know positive things can happen despite the recurrent outcry about the lack of resources. All we need is to use the outstanding human resources in and outside Pakistan. Try involving the young people for once, and see how dedicated they are to actually improve the situation!

    A professor once told me that the highest number of PhDs in Pakistan are in the field of Education. I only had one question: how could such highly qualified and supposedly responsible people let their conscience become so indifferent to the state of the education system in the country?!

  4. Nazii says:

    I want to draw the attention of Dr.Atta-Ur-Rehman via this forum towards the half said higher education policy of Pakistan. Sending 5000 pakistani intellectual brains in next five years to different developing countries for doctoral and post doctoral studies or exposures may not bring development to Pakistan. Pakistan Higher education policy requires design tsome foreseeing policy articles to benefit from this investment. My argument is that the current higher education policies in some casesare half said and the rest half is required to be added. I have an intention to contribute in this arena if required (by some authentic resources). Good luck to Pakistan and its development policies…

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