COST OF EDUCATION
Getting education in quality institutions is a dream
KANWAL SALEEM, LAHORE
Sep 10 - 16, 2007
Education lies at the heart of the dynamic and complex relationship that profoundly influences the destiny of individuals and society as a whole. Both formal and non formal education and particularly basic education and training especially for girls, are vehicles of empowerment as well as essential to addressing the root causes of poverty inequality and exclusion. Although, the government was showing commitment to improve the quality of education and there is much improvement on higher education level but on primary level much is to be done to achieve desired results. Lahore, which is called Pakistan's cultural capital, is also known, among other things, to educational institutions like the Central Model School, the Government College Lahore, LUMS, Beacon House, Punjab Group of Colleges and thousands of other private and public sector educational institutions. The impression about the private universities and schools is that due to unusual profiteering and greed, education has become a source of business. Although this is perfectly in keeping with the demands of a market economy but it is spoiling the future of young generation because quite a good number of young men have been exploited by these institutes.
PRIVATE EDUCATIONS INSTITUTIONS MINTING MONEY
Talking about affairs of private schools, sources in the provincial Education Department told PAGE that affairs of private educational institutions are regulated in the province under the Private Schools Regulation Act, 1984. The government was already reviewing the act to further improve the affairs of education department, he said, adding, fees of private schools were approved by the Cabinet and any revision in their fee structure could be made by the Cabinet. He further said that the government acts against those schools which commits any irregularity. However, during a survey, it was noticed that there exists no notified fee structure of private educational institutions working in the province and the management of these institutions were charging fees according to their will. It was only the poor and middle class who are being exploited and now getting education in quality educational institutions by the children of poor and middle class people is mere a dream.
According to a recent survey, billions of rupees are earned by Lahore's private education market alone. The business was said to be the most profitable after the oil trade. Lahore boasts thousands of schools, private and public. The recent decade has witnessed a major surge in higher education institutions' numbers. A list of premier education institutions in the city of Lahore include: International School of Choueifat (ISC), Aitchison College, King Edward Medical College (KEMC), Government College University (GCU), Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), Allama Iqbal Medical College, Institute of Islamic Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Crescent Model Higher Secondary School, Lahore School of Economics (LSE), Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Oriental College Of Arts (OCA), University College of Information Technology (PUCIT), University of Central Punjab, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, University of Lahore, Imperial College Of Business Studies (ICBS), Fatima Jinnah Medical College, University of Management and Technology, University of South Asia, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, University of the Punjab, Kinnaird College for Women, National College of Arts, Lahore College for Women University, St. Anthoy's High School, Salamat School System (SSS), Cathedral School, AL-SIBGHA School System, Samanabad, Lahore.
RS 4 BILLION PACKAGE FOR TEACHERS
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi while addressing Punjab Teachers Convention at Al-Hamra Hall announced a hefty package of Rs 4 billion for teachers, which will be implemented immediately. Under this package, he said, allowances of science and English teachers, headmasters, teachers of primary, high and higher secondary schools have been increased. While the government would bear Rs 1.23 billion expenses under which every teacher of the province would get Rs 450 Conveyance Allowance. Monthly allowance of headmasters has been increased as of primary school from Rs 20 to 250, middle school Rs 30 to 350, high school Rs 50 to 600 and higher secondary school Rs 350 to Rs 750, he said and added in this regard government would bear Rs 184 million expanses annually. The Chief Minister also announced an additional increment to all teachers of the province on which Rs 500 million would be spent. He said the primary and elementary teacher, who passes graduation examination, would get Rs 400 monthly allowance, on Masters Rs 600 and on M.Phil Rs 1,200, while monthly allowance of Rs 1,200 would be given to headmasters, senior headmasters, principals, subject specialists and senior subject specialists.
In the past, a teacher who was recruited in grade 7 was retired in the same grade after 40 years of service, but the present government would promote 50,000 primary teachers to grade-9, 22,500 teachers to grade-11 and 1,500 teachers to grade-12, he said. Under new package, 22,500 teachers of middle schools would be promoted from grade 9 to 12, 10,000 teachers to grade-14 and 660 teachers to grade-15 without the condition of increasing qualification. According to experts, the educational policies devised by the government are clear, but the real problem in our educational system is lack of proper monitoring and evaluation system. At present, there exists no structure of quality assurance at the governmental level and the goal of quality assurance in education field could only be achieved through putting in place an effective system of evaluation and monitoring at all levels.
They said the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has recently established Quality Cell to ensure quality of education in the universities. However, the need is that HEC should provide a platform to both private and public sector educational institutions to update their knowledge on latest trends in education field.
According to them, there is a definite improvement in quality of education at university level, but much more is to be done to ensure quality of education at schools level particularly primary level. 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.
MASJID-MAKTAB SCHOOLS CLOSURE
Moreover, it is learnt that the Punjab government is closing down all the Masjid-Maktab schools operating all over the province. According to sources, the Masjid-Maktab schools were opened throughout the country under the Masjid-Maktab school concept, which was introduced under Education Policy and Implementation Programme. Majority of these schools were converted to regular primary schools or closed down because of availability of regular formal schools in the close vicinity. According to them, the Masjid-Maktab school concept was introduced to provide easy access to the primary school age children, particularly those living in rural areas to universalize primary education through a cost-effective approach. These schools were opened in the existing mosques of the villages or settlements. Initially, these schools were opened only in those villages where normal primary schools were not existing or where a primary school was not available in the vicinity. Under the concept, each mosque school was provided with a trained PTC (primary teaching course) teacher in addition to the Imam of the mosque, who would share most of the burden of teaching.
The sources said that at present 7500, Masjid-Maktab schools were working across the province and these were being closed down because either the government has set up regular primary school in the particular area or at the nearby vicinity. These schools used to impart education up to Class-III and afterward the students had to approach other schools. There were quite a good number of areas in the province where regular primary schools were non- existent. Keeping in view shortage of schools, Masjid-Maktab schools were established. Now when in most of the areas, regular primary schools have been established, these schools lost their utilities because Imam Masjid were not paying due attention on their jobs. It may be mentioned that there were 13,763 mosque schools in Pakistan with Punjab having the highest number of 8,082 schools to cater to the educational needs especially in areas where formal primary schools were not available in the nearby vicinity. Of these 13,763 schools, 12,417 were in the rural areas while 1,346 were functioning in the urban areas. The total number of Masjid-Maktab schools in NWFP were 3,210; Baluchistan, 813, and AJK, 1,409, but none in Sindh.
When contacted, sources in the Punjab education department told this scribe that closure of Masjid-Maktab schools had no link with religious extremism. These schools were formed in the areas where regular primary schools were not working. The education department had appointed primary schools teachers in these schools alongwith Imam Masjid. Now when the shortage of primary schools has overcome there was no necessity of these schools, he added.
PUNJAB UNIVERSITY BUDGET
Meanwhile, the Punjab University Syndicate has approved university's Rs 2.383 billion budget for the year 2007-08, which is higher than last year's Rs 1.836 billion. The budget was approved PU Syndicate in its 1673rd meeting chaired by Vice-Chancellor Lt-General (Retd.) Arshad Mahmood. According to budget estimates, the PU will generate Rs 1.457 billion (61-percent) from its own resources and expect Rs 926 million (39-percent) grant from the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The PU expects to generate income of Rs 672 million (46-percent) from its examination department and Rs 288 million (20-percent) from its registration and degree fees. It will also earn Rs 91 million from on campus students' tuition fee, Rs 87 million from self-support, Rs 71 million from self-finance, Rs 70 million from utility charges and Rs178 million from other resources. Besides spending recurring budget and expenditure on ongoing projects, the Punjab University will spend Rs 161 million to pay higher salaries after revision of pay scales/ allowances, increase in pension and up gradation of teaching/clerical D-class employees; Rs 40 million for the impact of financial and planning committee; Rs18 million for the impact of newly recommended posts; Rs 212 million to pay recurring and Rs 434 million non-recurring cost of Scheduled New Expenditure (SNE). The Punjab University will fill 33 teaching posts and 198 administrative posts this year.
Addressing the Syndicate members, Arshad Mahmood said the university had done a robust planning to fulfill the needs of students belonging to less privileged families and those coming from remote areas. He said the University had the tradition of talent hunting from rural and remote areas to upgrade the quality of life of Pakistani citizens. Despite the stoppage of a portion of grant by the HEC, he said the university had enhanced the rate of scholarships from Rs 9,000 to Rs 12,000 to be given on merit and need basis. He said the university would offer 3,000 scholarships in each category.
He said the university had this year also enhanced the research scholar/research assistant remuneration from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000; the
honorarium for demonstrators had been increased from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000; the main library would be given additional Rs 10 million for the purchase of new books as well as Rs15 for its renovation. Arshad said the university had also allocated Rs 30 million for students' hostel infrastructure, Rs 8 million for the purchase of two new buses for students and employees; Rs 6 million for benevolent fund and Rs 7.5 million for the payment of compensation to the bereaved families. He said the university would spend Rs 50 million on the provision of medical facilities, allocated Rs 20 million for hospitalization of university employees and Rs 4.73 million for the purchase of machinery lab and emergency unit equipment at the PU Health Centre. He said the university had allocated Rs 10 million for the purchase of laptop, computers and multimedia to enhance teachers' capabilities. It has also allocated Rs20 million for overseas scholarships for faculty members. PU Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan gave a budget presentation to the Syndicate members. He said the university had done aggressive planning and took bold initiatives without considering the fact that the HEC had stopped university's grant. He said the university's financial health was stable and had ample resources to meet its requirements without burdening its students.