KP’s education reforms — heading towards right path
THE first word revealed in the Holy Quran was “Iqra” which means” to read”.
This first verse of the Holy Quran shows us the importance of pen, greatness of knowledge and importance of education in Islam.
Article 25-A of Pakistan’s Constitution obliges the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen. Education is the reason behind rise and fall of any nation.
After the 18th (Constitutional) Amendment, on 19 April 2010, the education sector was assigned to the provinces, with a hope that provinces would focus on providing quality education, as previously; there was a lack of comprehensive planning and strategy in this sector.
During its second stint in the KP, PTI-led government declared an education emergency in the province. As part of election manifesto, PM Imran Khan reiterated his firm resolve to upgrade education system across the KP.
Consequently, during the past three years, the KP Government has focused on the neglected education sector and introduced various revolutionary steps to improve the quality of education.
The provincial government is spending heavily on building infrastructure and basic facilities. The number of non-functional schools has been reduced massively due to the effective policies.
A real time focus is given to the lack of facilities like boundary walls, water supply, electricity and toilets. To get rid of load shedding, the government installed thousands of solar panels in schools to have an uninterrupted supply of electricity at daytime.
Simultaneously, increased annual budget for education.The present age is known as an era of Information Technology (IT) and a nation cannot progress without making full use of it.
Therefore, the provincial government has established thousands of state-of-the-art IT labs across the KP.
It is pertinent to mention here that Microsoft has also endorsed this effort and offered to train above 15000 IT teachers with free certification.
The major five-year revolutionary educational reform plan (2019-2023) was brought by department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a flagship project of KP government in this tenure.
The four core aspects of this innovative plan includes teachers’ training, curriculum reforms, establishment and up-gradation of schools and the appointment of new teaching staff.
In order to reduce teacher-to-student ratio, it has been decided to hire 65,000 new teachers well-versed with modern education techniques, including 11,000 primary teachers under this five-year plan. So far, more than 40,000 teachers have been recruited on a merit basis through NTS.
After the merger of tribal districts into the KP, the Education Ministry has approved a handsome amount for the restructuring of the current education system. In order to modernize the current education system, KP government has established 138 Data Collection Monitoring Assistants (DCMAs) in tribal districts.
Taleemi Islahi Jirgas (TIJs) are converted into Parent-Teacher Councils (PTCs) and connected them with the Education Ministry with an aim to keep a check and balance.
The Government has introduced a new concept of school leaders and aims to train about 3,000 leaders who will be responsible for monitoring the classrooms, lesson management, implementation and daily school life. The process of expanding teachers’ training program to all districts of the province is also in the process.
Furthermore, the education department has almost completed its working on the development of high-quality script lessons for different subjects. Textbooks for classes 1 to 10, will also be revised according to modern standards by 2023.
Another milestone achieved by the KP government is the establishment of Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU).
This vigilant monitoring system has reduced teachers’ absenteeism by 17% to 20%. It also constantly collects reliable data which is helpful for realistic planning.
Previously, teachers used to take salaries without performing any duties; however, with the advent of biometric attendance system, those ghost servants have been captured.
Enrolment drives have been organized every year. Government is giving free books to the children including drawing and colouring books to enhance their creative thinking.
Government is also stressing on female education through its new policy of building classrooms with a ratio of 2 for female and 1 for male.
To impart the true teachings of Islam, Quranic education and Nazira is made compulsory up to class 12th. In a refreshing development, students of private schools are migrating to government schools due to student-friendly policies.
Nevertheless, there is room for improvement in the education sector like linking promotion of teaching and administrative staff with performance.
Government teachers should be made bound to enrol their children in public sector. The concept of uniform curriculum will create national thinking. Another important aspect which needs attention is to address the growing role of tuition and coaching centres.
Technical education should also be focused from the base. Experiences of others successful educational models like Finland model may be studied to improve the sector.
— The writer is Islamabad-based veteran Journalist & PHD Media Studies fellow, an Academic Researcher & Media Analyst.