Educational aid package announced by Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron will go a long way in addressing the educational emergency in Pakistan. Guests on last night’s Express 24/7 show, Witness with Quatrina Hosain, debated how the education aid package will help.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali, MNA from the PPPP and Humayun Mohmand of the PTI debated how the money, almost $1.1 billion over the next four years can benefit the education system especially in light of the devolution of education as part of the 18th Amendment.
Earlier, on his first ever trip to Pakistan, Cameron pledged support for the education system in Pakistan, terming it as a “cornerstone” in relations with Pakistan. Cameron announced that Britain will be working on the subjects of security, War on Terror, free trade and Education.
The guests of the evening debated that while assistance will be provided by Britain, a lot of ground work by Pakistan needs to be done to address the emergency surrounding education.
Humayun Mohmand pointed out that our actions in recent past have suggested a lack of serious attitude towards education, not only in budget allocation towards the subject but also in the quality of governance. Dropping the budget down from 7.5 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 1.5 per cent a year later is not positive, said Mohmand.
Lack of good governance, efficiency, efficacy and economy in the educational policy of Pakistan further compound the current dilemma.
The impending devolution of education to provinces brought out more disputes between the guests.
Ahsan Iqbal of the PML-N argued that the funds being provided by Britain should be divided by an education commission. Wazir Ali revealed that following devolution, funds allocation will be handled under the NFC awards which have already been providing a lot of funds for education to provinces.
The subject of devolution, which has caused national uproar, was debated further by the in-studio guests. Mohmand was particularly perturbed by the ramifications devolution will have on the education system which already suffers from inconsistencies. He argued that making education a solely provincial subject will further enhance the disparities in educational levels between the provinces, proving ultimately detrimental to educational growth in the country already divided along ethnic lines.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali defended the policy of the PPP saying that the government was deeply concerned about education and were striving to set up a standardized curriculum with greater checks and balances on quality education, with subjects like physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics meeting international standards.
To maintain standards, end of class five examinations were being set up as a means to monitor quality of education and to provide standardization.
Regarding the commitment to education, Wazir Ali pointed out that Pakistan was providing free text books to students. Additionally aid for text books by Britain will be only monetary, and Pakistan will have complete control over the curriculum and the information contained within the books.
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