EDUCATION SECTOR FACING CHALLENGES IN PAKISTAN

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
June 20 - 26, 20
11

Education improves the economic, social, political and cultural life of the nation. Until now, the role of secondary and college education in Pakistan has been simply preparation for tertiary education, which in the minds of most people means strictly a university education.

All over the world, universities are guiding and cooperating with the industrial and agricultural development organizations and they are developing their economics rapidly and meaningfully. There is a close link between education and development. However, in Pakistan, we are lagging behind in education sector. There is no linkage between educational institutions and industry.

In Pakistan, the quality of education is on the decline despite the fact that the government has initiated measures for raising the quality and quantity of education.

Critics told PAGE that quality of teachers especially at primary level is still questionable. Without teachers' transformation we cannot transform the education system for improving the quality of education. Despite education reforms in the area of teacher education, impact on the quality of teachers and teaching process is not visible. Eventually, it further affected the quality of education being offered in schools. Education system of Pakistan is facing new challenges. It has yet to be developed at par with other developing countries in the region, they said. "We are focusing on new initiatives in education sector but are not taking necessary steps to improve the existing infrastructure in education sector that is facing neglect," they said.

They said that education raises the productivity and efficiency of individuals and thus produces skilled work force that is capable of leading the economy towards the path of sustainable economic development. Like many other developing countries, the situation of the education sector in Pakistan is not very encouraging. The low enrolment rates at the primary level, wide disparities between regions and gender, lack of trained teachers, deficiency of proper teaching material and poor physical infrastructure of schools indicate the poor performance of this sector.

The extremely low level of public investment is the major cause of the poor performance of Pakistan's education sector, they added

The government has allocated Rs14000 million for Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Public Sector Development Programs (PSDP) 2011-12.

According to the budgetary document, an amount of Rs679.895 million has been allocated for the six new schemes of HEC while an amount of Rs13320.105 has been allocated for 166 ongoing schemes. Among the new schemes, Rs300 million have been allocated for establishment of a university in Malakand / Swat, Rs200 million for Indigenous PhD Fellowship for 5000 Scholars (Phase-II), Rs60 million for establishment of a university at Turbut, Rs50 million for National Defence University and Rs49.895 million for establishment of a university at Loralai.

On the other hand, the Punjab government announced allocation of Rs23.9 billion for all education sectors, including primary and secondary schools, higher education departments, special education and literacy departments. Around Rs14.5 billion were allocated for the School Education Department, Rs6.5 billion for higher education, around Rs500 million for special education and Rs800 million for literacy development. There had been a total increase of Rs0.6 billion in the education budget as compared to the last year's budget.

Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the world, and the lowest among countries of comparative resources and social/economic situations. The rise in supply of educational infrastructure or removal of the supply side constraints can play an important role in raising literacy and education of the population.

Article 25-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan says "The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by Law."

Our rulers and policymakers need to think as to whether this constitutional obligation is met. There exists different classes with separate system of education, experts said.

According to them, private higher education market is particularly complex as measurement of the 'educational product' is relatively a difficult task and there are few traditions of quality assurance. Accountability measures, at least those concerning budget, and the direct delivery of education programs are fairly well developed in the public universities, but the same is not true of private higher education.

They said girl-child education is even more important to a nation than educating male children. This is because the girl-child grows into the woman who by virtue of her paramount role in the upbringing of children is the first teacher and educator in society.

Consequently, the importance of girl-child education to national development cannot be over-emphasized, at all strata of social development. Girl-child education also significantly contributes to a healthy nation, because an educated mother better appreciates the benefits of hygiene, balance-diet and healthy eating habits. The educated mother is also more predisposed to meticulously follow drug prescriptions and dosage, than do mother's without formal education, with the result that a child born to an educated mother is more likely to be healthier than one whose mother is uneducated, they added.

Education is the only solution of the manifold problems posed to the country. No society could be progressed without education, justice, and peace and the need of the hour is to work on national agenda beyond personal differences.