Thursday, September 10, 2009
Grade XI, XII to be made part of school education; Malik tasked to persuade religious quarters to agree to modern curriculum
By Saadia Khalid
ISLAMABAD: The long awaited National Education Policy (NEP) 2009, after facing many hiccups, has been finally approved by the cabinet and formally announced by Federal Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani here on Wednesday.
The salient features of the policy, inter alia, are that seven per cent of GDP will be spent on the education and efforts are afoot to introduce modern curricula in Madaris. There will be uniform system of education across the country.
The policy document which is termed “living adaptable document” comprises 11 chapters and includes overarching challenges and responses, filling the commitment gap, filling the implementation gap, Islamic education, broadening the base and achieving access, raising the quality of education, strengthening the skill development and innovation, higher education, implementation framework and the state of education in the country.
Addressing a press conference, the minister highlighted various clauses of the policy and also described policy actions. He said foremost priority in the policy has been given to the uniform system of education across the country.
“A common curricular framework in general as well as professional education will be applied to educational institutions in both the public and the private sectors,” he said, adding the government will take steps to bring the public and private sectors in harmony through common standards, quality and regulatory regimes.
He said the students of Madaris would be brought at par with the students of formal public secondary schools through the introduction of formal subjects. “We are trying our level best to introduce contemporary subjects in Madaris so that they could also contribute to the progress of the country,” he said.
He said they have been facing resistance from Wafaqul Madaris in this regard but hopefully they will reach some fruitful conclusion within two weeks. “Rehman Malik has been assigned the task to negotiate with the religious quarters in order to implement modern curriculum in Madaris,” he said.
While describing the purpose behind the inclusion of the chapter “Islamic Education” in the policy, he said the objectives of teaching Islamiyat will be to ensure that all Muslim children are provided opportunities to learn, understand, and apply the fundamental principles of Islam in their lives with the purpose of reformation and development of the society on the principles of Qura’an and Sunnah.
He said improvements in quality of Early Childhood Education (ECE) will be based on a concept of holistic development of the child that provides a stimulating, interactive environment, including play, rather than a focus on regimes that require rote learning and rigid achievement of standards.
“Provision of ECE shall be attached to primary schools which will be provided with additional budget, teachers and assistants for this purpose,” he said, adding for ECE teachers, a two-year specialised training in dealing with young children will be a necessary requirement.
Highlighting the chapter regarding secondary and higher secondary education, he said grades XI and XII will not be part of the college level and will be merged into the school level forming part of existing secondary schools and where needed provision of necessary human and physical resources shall be ensured.
“A system for ranking of primary and secondary educational institutions across the country will be introduced with rankings based on result outcomes, extracurricular activities and facilities provided to the students, in order to encourage healthy competition between schools,” he said.
While pointing to steps regarding improvement in the quality of education, he said a Bachelors degree, with a BEd, will be the requirement for teaching at elementary level. “A Masters level for the secondary and higher secondary, with a BEd, will be ensured by 2018,” he said, adding PTC and CT will be phased out by encouraging the present set of teachers to improve their qualifications, while new hiring will be based on the advanced criteria.
The minister said the curriculum development and review process, as well as textbooks review process, will be standardised and institutionalised within the framework of the Federal Supervision of Curricula, Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act, 1976.
“Professional councils like the Pakistan Medical and the Dental Council (PM&DC) and the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) shall be involved in consultations for relevant curriculum development,” he said.
Bijarani said steps will be taken to raise enrolment in the higher education sector from existing 4.7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2015 & 15 per cent by 2020. “Investment in the higher education shall be increased to 20 per cent of the education budget along with an enhancement of the total education budget to 7 per cent of GDP,” he said.
It is worth mentioning here that chapter number four “Islamic Education” had been added a month ago after consultation with Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-e-Deeni Madaris and the Ministry of Religious Affairs which declared Islamic education as duty of the society and the state. It says ideology of Islam forms the genesis of the State of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its fundamental principles were defined in the Objectives Resolution, 1949, which is part of the Constitution.
The NEP has largely been agreed upon by all the federating units and has become a jointly owned national document. After the approval of the policy each province and area will develop implementation strategies and plans as per its own priorities, including current ongoing activities.
At the federal level, the Ministry of Education will collate the plans of the federating units to develop a national picture of educational progress for reporting to international fora and more importantly, presenting it to the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference — the highest body to oversee development of education in Pakistan.
The NEP 2009 analyses problems and issues hampering the development of education in Pakistan, and outlines a wide range of reforms and policy actions to be taken and pursued in a coordinated federal-inter-provincial process.
The NEP thus outlines what is to be done. The NEP does not deal with who will do what, how will something be done, and when is something done? Past national education policy documents, with some exceptions, largely remained declarations of intent and were not followed up by an effective implementation. Even where implementation did take place, there was no complete process for monitoring and feedback.
To prevent failure of this policy an implementation framework, with a follow-up and feedback mechanism, will be developed. The basic principles agreed in the 13th Meeting of Inter-Provincial Education Ministers (IPEM) held on 9th May, 2008 in Islamabad. The meeting decided and directed that “An Action Plan will be developed by each Province/Area and collated at the Federal level”.
The purpose of the action plan will be to outline, create an understanding and achieve consensus across the federating units as well as within each province and area, on who will be responsible and who will do what, how will it be done (implementation process, organisational setup, interaction of working groups and advisory panels), and when would be something done (priorities and time scheduling).