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Education, health overhaul – Govt ready to make history

The government’s basic responsibility is to provide health, education and justice to its people. The new government wants to bring notable improvement in the sectors of health and education on a priority basis.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has identified education reform as the central theme of his government. His first 100 days agenda seeks to ‘revolutionize social services’, including transforming health and education.

A World Bank study (2007) shows compelling evidence that education quality, rather than simply years of schooling, is a driver of economic growth and increased equity, so the solution to improving education must involve technology. Without this, the promise of transforming education may remain unfulfilled. Public sector schools and technical institutions would also be revived on modern lines.

The new government will ensure security for schools as it is committed to focusing on education, especially girls’ education which is integral to ‘Naya Pakistan’ (a change Pakistan).

The new government will work in coordination with all provinces and provide education to all as per Constitution of Pakistan. It is startling to know that more than 20 million children are out of schools. Government will work hard with provinces to increase enrolment rate. National Education Policy 2018 will be launched soon. All vacant positions at the Ministry and its attached departments will be filled on purely merit and in transparent manner. All attached departments to ensure facilitating Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Kashmir alongside other provinces in all educational and professional training projects and initiatives.

The new government would declare the Prime Minister’s House a higher educational institution and the Governor Houses would be changed into public parks and guest houses. Experts will be consulted to promote higher education in the country. Promotion of education, uniformity in curricular and provision of modern educational facilities to youth in the field of science and technology are among foremost priorities of his government.

Uniform curriculum

The government also made another significant decision to introduce uniform curriculum not only in public and private schools but also in religious seminaries (madressahs). The Cabinet recently decided to introduce uniform curriculum not only in public and private schools but also in madressahs. Introducing uniform curriculum in the whole country was not an easy task but the federal government was committed to doing that with the cooperation of the provincial governments.

Education, health, sanitation and provision of potable water are provincial subjects but they will be driven from the Centre. Education became a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment and the decision of uniform curriculum is expected to spark a controversy in the country over the ‘centre’s interference’ into provincial affairs.

The Cabinet had also decided to take concrete steps to provide education to over 25 million children who were presently out of schools.

 

Health reforms

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has planned massive reforms across Pakistan in the health sector.

The government will bring back top medical professionals from abroad to implement the new health policy.

The government will implement the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act 2015 in the rest of the country, particularly in Punjab, after having introduced it in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2015. It also plans to introduce changes to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and give the country its national health policy.

The new elected government has formed a task force and engaged Dr Burki to handle issues related to public health and medical teaching in the country. The increase in health budget from Rs 18 billion to Rs 65 billion showed that health was the top priority of the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

The provincial government tries to take steps towards health reforms; people who oppose the change get stay orders from courts. This is one of the biggest hurdles in the path of change.

It was for the first time in the history of the province and the country that reforms had been introduced in the health sector. As many as 3,500 doctors have been recruited in the province for tertiary care hospitals, taking the total strength of doctors to 6,500. Now 95 percent doctors are available for work in territory care hospitals in KPK.

The Sehat Insaf Card initiative was another revolutionary step of the government in the province. The number of beneficiaries has increased from 1.8 million families to 2.4 million families. The project is on its way to covering 70 percent of population in KPK.

Around Rs 70 million has so far been spent on providing free treatment to the poor people of KPK in the Sehat Insaf Card initiative during the first six months of the current year.

Dr Burki was working day and night without any salary or any other benefits to improve the health sector of KPK.

Twelve foreign doctors have been recruited at the LRH largely due to Dr Burki’s efforts. Soon a day will come when public sector hospitals are able to compete with private hospitals in the province.

The government would spend public tax money to improve education and health facilities to benefit the poor. Half of Pakistan’s population was living below the poverty line while 45 percent of children have stunted growth. 25 million children were out of school and the female fatality rate during childbirth in Pakistan was one of the highest.

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