PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said on Wednesday that the government was planning on introducing a uniform curriculum for all public and private schoolchildren across the province.
Addressing the launch ceremony of the enrolment campaign at Hassanian Shaheed School No 1 in Peshawar, Khattak said the drive aimed to enrol around 0.8 million children into schools across the province.
Khattak explained a uniform curriculum would be introduced at schools to ensure that all students were treated equally—whether affluent or financially disadvantaged. He said one of his party’s promises during the 2013 general elections was to provide free and standard education to everyone in K-P. He observed that certain circumstances caused students from the lower income groups to either fail or barely pass their examination, while children from affluent backgrounds secured the highest marks.
The chief minister said the government would now standardise education in private and government-run schools. Khattak shared that the two major hurdles which stood in the way of these plans were political interference and lack of basic facilities.
Teaching it right
He claimed that in previous governments, teachers were appointed on the basis of nepotism while authorities ignored the basic requirements of schools. “In the past, a school had two rooms with two teachers. However, new schools will have five rooms with as many teachers,” he asserted.
Khattak said an alarming 60% of teachers used to remain absent which resulted in a similar rate of students staying out of schools. “To control teacher absenteeism, a monitoring system has been introduced due to which teachers’ attendance has spiked from 60% to 95%,” he said. “Consequently, the rate of students at schools has also increased.”
The chief minister said there was initially no concept of student-teacher ratios. He said a single teacher would take on as many as 50 to 100 students, but now that number will be reduced to between 40 and 45.
Khattak said the education department has taken action against 4,300 teachers and around 400 were suspended for not performing their duties properly.
Back to the basics
He added Rs2 billion has been released for the construction of boundary walls of schools, while the upcoming budget will provide for the construction of 5,000 toilets in government-run institutions. He shared that 200 establishments will be made model schools and be equipped with all kinds of facilities.
Khattak said a whopping Rs50 million had been set aside for outstanding teachers and principals awards and all promotions would be performance oriented.
The chief minister requested parents to take note of their children’s schools and highlight any problems.
Minister for Education Muhammad Atif Khan said the basic aim was to enrol all out-of-school children. He reiterated their target was 0.8 million this year. He said 5,000 schools across the province were without boundary walls, adding Rs43 billion was required to provide basic facilities at all schools across the province. Atif said around Rs8 billion will be spent for the same purpose in 2015, while more funds will be allocated the following year.
The minister said education was the top priority of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government and they intend on fulfilling their promise. He also appreciated the support of non-profit organisations to launch the education enrolment campaign.
The education enrolment campaign’s organiser and Alif Ailaan provincial representative Umer Orakzai said 693,218 girls and boys are enroled in government-run schools from grade one while the campaign is targeting around 0.8 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2015.