Devolution of education: Ministry to submit draft against decision in NA

‘Such a step could be a threat to national integrity’.

Peer Muhammad December 22, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Education will submit a draft to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education by Friday detailing why devolving it to provinces is a bad idea.

This was decided in a meeting of the committee in Islamabad on Tuesday. The committee’s chairperson, Abid Sher Ali, was also present.

Federal Minister for Education Sardar Assef briefed the committee, saying that the capacity his ministry had developed for the past 60 years would be destroyed within no time if its functions were completely transferred.

“Some provinces lack the capacity and experience to handle [matters related to] education,” he said.

Assef said that the federal ministry should retain important components including policy, planning, curriculum and implementation to ensure that the national policy on education remains intact.

The minister said that he realised even before the passage of the 18th Amendment that the step would be problematic. But he said the ministry’s input was not taken before the bill was drafted.

He said if each federating unit starts imparting education in their respective regional languages then ethnic problems would emerge. For instance he said, if Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa introduced Pushto as the medium of instruction in the province, the Hazarewal would be agitated. Similarly, if Sindh introduced Sindhi in schools, the Urdu-speaking populace would not spare them. Such problems could be a potential threat to the national integrity, he said.

“There will be only Sindhis, Pushtun, Punjabis and Baloch and not Pakistanis in 10 years if timely measures are not taken,” he said. The minister also cited examples of Germany and Canada, where national education is managed by the federation.

Committee chairman Abid Sher Ali said that the Ministry of Education should prepare a draft policy and send it to the committee within three days. The committee will review and discuss it with Senator Raza Rabbani, who is the chairperson of the Implementation Commission.

He said that the committee would also write to the commission saying that there must be a uniform education policy. He added that the government should remove loopholes in the educational system and strengthen the ministry instead of breaking it.

Former Education Minister Zubaida Jalal said, “We must have a long-term vision for protecting national integration.”

She recommended that national curriculum and policy should rest with the centre, which will provide support to the federating units for implementation of the curriculum.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2010.


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