May 12 - 18, 2008

LAHORE: The education is the strongest power and weapon in the human life as it not only ensures socio-economic well being of the individual and collective lives but also a guarantee for progress and prosperity of the country on long term basis.

""It is because of education that a large number of persons, hailing from normal families, are posted at highest offices across the world and playing dominant role in the well being of the humanity," educationists told PAGE.

They said the government should be conscious of the ground realities and thus accord highest priority to expand research facilities on most scientific lines. For this purpose, they said, maximum resources should be spent. Moreover, industry-academia link should be promoted.

They said it is high time that our new generation must focus on their studies and make best use of the available opportunities. "We can also ensure best utilization of the natural resources by focusing on proper education and training of the new generation," they argued. Pakistan is an Ideological State and there may be certain deficiencies in our way of working but the foundations of the country are exceptionally strong and Inshallah we would achieve the target of translating the dreams of our forefathers into reality in this connection, they remarked.

They said that tremendous achievements have been made in the field of education during the recent past but still a lot is to be done.

Despite the fact that manpower in government educational institutions is more qualified and better salaried but their expertise is not utilized effectively, they said.

Although, the government seems committed in restoring to the lost glory but desired results cannot be achieved without changing the mind set of educationists.

World Bank report on Pakistan education policy says, Pakistan will have to review afresh its education policy, in which, regulatory framework will have to be prepared for the government schools as well as private educational institutions. The report further said that per child expense at government schools amounted at Rs 2000 while in the private schools it was Rs 1000. More than 90 per cent of children go to government schools and colleges and their registration rose by 10 per cent, but their educational quality has not been improved, the World Bank report said.

"Government schools and colleges have best teaching staff and buildings with vast play grounds while most of private schools and colleges have below quality teaching staff and housed in small buildings but even then they are producing good results," Prof Niaz, head of a private educational institution in Lahore said, adding it is a matter of concern.

Though the contribution of the private sector could not be ignored yet their "unbridled" operation had made people's lives miserable by charging heavy fees, a local citizen Ghulam Farooq said.

"Private educational institutions in the absence of check and balance are fleecing parents by charging huge amounts in one way or the other, such as annual charges, examination fee and annual festival or sports day charges etc," he added.

According to Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the new education policy is being reviewed to make it result oriented while the teachers would be given their due prestige and more incentives with training courses would be provided to them to prepare them for contemporary and future challenges in education sector.

Ahsan said there would be an end to the class based education now and a uniform policy would be pursued to prove quality education to all citizens of the country irrespective of their social status. He said that missing facilities, one of the main factors for being low quality education, were being provided to make learning environment more conducive in these institutions.

On the other hand, a retired teacher Azam Butt said the continuous degradation of public sector educational institutional, particularly in the rural areas are widening the social gap. There is no other way but to raise the education quality of government schools and colleges to cope with the present day challenges, he said.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had already announced that the new government would strive for the development of science and technology in the country and would introduce research-oriented strategy in every field of knowledge. "To achieve the objective of a sustainable economic growth, advancement in the fields of science and technology is the pre-requisite," he said while addressing graduates and faculty at the 16th Convocation of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology at Convention Centre.

The Prime Minister said structural changes would be made in the policies of education with focus on improving advanced knowledge to compete with international community.

"Pakistan has to make strategic decisions to ensure sustainable growth in the manufacturing sector to cater for the highly competitive international environment. This requires structural changes in our policy to achieve the level of production in manufacturing sector based on advanced technological knowledge," he said.

Gilani urged the need for improving standard of education in the country at all levels, making its quality at par with developed countries. "Only through competitive edge, we can expand our access to the world market and reduce the trade deficit to support our national economy," the Prime Minister added.

The Prime Minister said knowledge-based scientific innovations provide a springboard for all significant economic activities and development in the world, therefore, the government intends to review the entire science and technology, and research and development activities in the country. "The objective is to improve the overall economic and social environment for the betterment of masses."

He said the government would involve all stakeholders in its efforts to make an integrated policy on education.