Following the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government’s directives to reorganise and improve various government sectors, the Ministry for Elementary and Secondary Education held the first meeting of its working group on educational reforms on Tuesday.
“We have called in education experts from all over the country to give their input as to how education in this province can be par excellence. We have to bring improvements in the government-run educational institutions,” said Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Atif Khan while chairing the meeting at Civil Secretariat.
“The problems faced are as vast as the [education] sector itself; more multifarious,” Arif told the working group. “The basic focus of our reforms in the education sector is to remove the gap – so children from poor families can also receive good quality education,” he added.
“We (the government) will provide the vision and the experts are there to add the details and make it possible practically,” shared the education minister.
“The suggestions of the working group will be implemented in the month of August which is our target,” claimed Atif. There will be continual review of suggestions so they can be applied accordingly, he added.
“A department which should be apolitical has been politicised – it should never have been so,” Atif told those attending the meeting. “We will bring back the self-esteem of the teaching community, but they also need to play their role and should not get involved in politics.”
Secretary Elementary and Secondary Education Joudat Ayaz claimed the education sector has been in shambles for the last 60 years and the institutions are not producing well-learned people.
According to his colleague, Additional Secretary Elementary and Secondary Education Qaiser Alam, “When the government says a uniform education policy, it means education which is affordable for all. We have to give an action plan to the government regarding what can be achieved in the sphere of education and in what timeframe.”
One of the suggestions floated during the first meeting was to keep the medium of instruction in the native language. According to Ambreen Arif, this would facilitate better understanding. However, she clarified this step would not mean English language would be scrapped from the syllabus; instead, it would be taught right from the start, from grade one.
Gradually convert mathematics and science subjects to the medium of English, ideally over a span of five years, proposed Raja Saad Khan.
Participants of the meeting created five sub-groups. These will come up with suggestions on various aspects of education.
The governance group will work on tidying management; the access and equity group will help reduce school dropouts. To improve the curriculum, the quality group was constituted. The adult literacy group will aim to bring those people, who dropped out from schools more than five to seven years ago, back in the fold. And finally, the private sector engagement group will coordinate with private educational institutes to help propel the overall agenda of the government to its logical conclusion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.
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