The government claims an improvement in the educational standard

July 02 - July 08, 2007

LAHORE: Although the government claims an improvement in the educational Standard, the situation at school levels across the country is still grim and the educationists feel that the government needs to introduce a proper system of monitoring and evaluation at both university and school levels to bring qualitative changes to our educational system.

With a view to explore, analyze and synthesize the successful methodologies in education, academicians and experts shared their experiences during the two-day 5th National Conference on 'Quality Assurance in Education' held at PCSIR Auditorium in Lahore.

The moot was organized by PIQC Institute of Quality in which around 150 senior academicians and professionals from all over the country participated.

Talking to PAGE, Ambreen Asif Qureshi, Manager Programmes, COMMECS Institute of Education, Karachi, stated that although, the educational policies devised by the government are clear, but the real problem in our education system is lack of proper monitoring and evaluation system.

Ambreen Asif Qureshi, who is also Convenor Education Chapter, Quality and Productivity Society of Pakistan, stated that there exists no structure of quality assurance at the governmental level. She opined that quality assurance in education field could be achieved through putting in place an effective system of evaluation and monitoring at all levels.

Praising Higher Education Commission (HEC), she maintained that HEC has recently established Quality Cell to ensure quality of education in the universities. The HEC has also asked the Universities to set up Quality Education Cells in their respective institutions. Although, HEC has evolved Quality Assurance Criteria (QAC) for quality education but it is in preliminary stage, she said. She suggested that HEC should provide a platform to both private and public sector educational institutions to update their knowledge on latest trends in the field of education.

Answering a question, Ambreen Asif Qureshi mentioned that although there is a bit of improvement in quality of education at university level, there is much more is to be done to ensure quality of education at schools level particularly primary level.

To a question regarding imparting training to the teachers, she was of the view that training of teachers is a continuos process but the need is to identify training needs of teachers and also start focussed training of teachers with proper monitoring and follow up system. Emphasizing the need for application of Information System in the education sector, she stated that reliable data of students, faculty and examinations is necessary to help bring changes for improvement.

Talking about COMMECS, she stated that it is non-profit organisation established with the objective to bring quantum change in quality of education. 'We are extending teachers training at all levels and 5 % seats are allocated to the teachers of public sector institutions'.

Answering another question, Ambreen Asif Qureshi stated that private sector universities have established linkages with the private sector and they are producing results for the benefit of industry. She was of the view that industry can get maximum benefits with the academic research, which requires sufficient funds and government encouragement in this connection.

To another query, she said that National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) is rendering valuable services for the promotion of education at school level. She was of the view that problems at school levels are grim and the government needs to 'adopt target oriented approach' to improve the state of affairs at school level so that the goal of 100 percent literacy rate could be achieved.

Kamran Moosa, CEO PIQC Institute of Quality told this scribe that the conference was aimed at sharing the best quality practices in education. He stated that there are around 107 universities in the country but there exists no technical criteria for appointment of vice-chancellors (VCs) in the universities. He asked the government to prepare technical criteria for appointment of vice-chancellors in the universities so that only those having sound technical knowledge can be appointed as VCs in the Universities.

To a question, he said that there is a bit improvement in quality of education at university level but much more is to be done to ensure quality of education at school level. He was of the view that training of teachers without specific goals and targets is meaningless, as it would not help improve education standard at primary level in the government run schools. Talking about collaboration between industry and academia, he was of the view that industry can get maximum benefits with the academic research, which requires sufficient funds and government encouragement in this connection.

To another query, he said that examination system being followed by different boards is outdated. He advised the government to take the stakeholders into confidence to evolve a foolproof system.

At the moot, Kamran Moosa, presented a paper on 'strategic quality implementation in education' in which he analyzed different policies, structures, systems, tools & skills necessary for establishing a sound quality assurance framework in Pakistani educational institute.

Prof Dr Syed Muhammad Awais (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), pro vice-chancellor and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery King Edward Medical University said that the development of the national economy could be done by strengthening the service sector. In this regard, he proposed a framework of academic standards for quality education.

Dr. Bernadette Louise, Dean Associate Professor Aga Khan University, Institute of Educational Development presented her paper on teacher's common difficulties in transiting from teacher-led to learner centered classrooms. Through her paper, she described some of the approaches of teacher's education and few implications for policy and practice of teacher education in Pakistan.

Arif Iqbal Rana, Associate Professor in LUMS delivered his paper on managing quality of graduates and faculty at the LUMS Business School. In his presentation, he says that expanding the faculty of the institute affects the quality of the institute. He also shared his experience in retaining high quality faculty and evolving a methodology for performance appraisal system.

Khalid Mahmood, Technical Advisor-Institutional Strengthening, Canada-Pakistan Basic Education Project presented his paper is on quality textbook: need to define parameters. Through a presentation he described the efforts made to develop standards of quality textbook and validate the developed standards by curriculum experts, text book writers, publishers and teachers and evaluate two primary textbooks on the basis of these standards. Dr. Duishon Shamatov who is associated with Aga Khan University Karachi presented his paper on the impact of teacher deployment on quality education in Pakistan. Through a presentation, he focused on the deployment of primary teachers in the rural areas of Sindh and their issues related to incentives, teachers-students ratio, male- female ratio and shortage of teachers in the schools.

Dr. Muhammad Shahbaz Arif Professor and Chairman, University of Management and Technology Lahore through a presentation focused on the issues and current practices to improve quality research. His study reveals that there is a significant difference in the current practices and quality of research after studying 27 experienced university teachers randomly.

Dr. Zafar Iqbal from Allama Iqbal Open University read his paper on focusing student support services for quality assurance in open and distance learning. His research paper focuses on the support services being provided by Allama Iqbal University to students.

Dr. Muhammad Kamran Jamil, Deputy Director Corporate Relations; Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan, Karachi in his paper on application of information system in the education industry of Pakistan said that the application of information systems played an important role in taking academic and administrative decisions.

Dr. Sherwin Rodrigues, senior instructor in Aga Khan University writes his paper on questioning and feedback in the primary classroom as a formative assessment method.