[EDLING:1672] Pakistan: New Public and Private Institutions Founded

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jun 23 02:11:03 UTC 2006

Pak Tribune


Policy Repairs Through Educational Reformation

The substantial changes in the national education policy will be a giant leap 
if a pragmatic implementation design is perused over a period of time. The 
policy repairs address pertinent issues which concern parents, students, and 
educators alike. It seems that the ministry of education is rolling out 
drastic changes in the education system by focusing on areas like polytechnic 
education, madrassa reforms, and Language Planning (LP). The amendments about 
LP in the education policy would be significant headway towards the resolution 
of language bewilderment in country’s education system. The LP has been an 
area of inconsistent policies and several experiences had been tried by 
inclusion of foreign languages like Persian, Arabic, and the late start of 
English language teaching (from grade six). Now the federal government in a 
thoroughgoing change has declared English compulsory in all public and private 
schools. The decision will bring uniformity in compulsory English language 
teaching in all school campuses. The minister of education while sharing his 
ministry’s policy observed that over a period of time alterations about 
English language teaching had adversely affected the education system. For 
instance, teaching of science in Urdu at school level has disadvantaged our 
students. The minister further remarked that the functioning education system 
is procreating “non-productive and meaningless education” which is not a 
market oriented produce. 

American educationist Skinner describes, “Education is what is left when what 
has been learnt has been forgotten.” Education can be a skill or the ultimate 
impact on an individual’s awareness and abilities. The minister’s remarks like 
unproductive as well as purposeless education can be seen in this backdrop. It 
is especially true about the public sector educational institutions. Perhaps, 
the paradigm of education in play throughout the country does not target skill 
development of students which can be specifically relevant to the escalating 
socio-economic needs of the country. It is a fact that social development will 
need skilled human resource, which can contribute towards social, 
agricultural, and industrial sectors of the country with over 160 million 
people. Social development depends upon economic development and the education 
complex plays a formidable role in the development of human resource base. It 
seems that present education system does not meet the expectations of students 
and parents. One can easily authenticate this perception by asking parents and 
students of public schools. There seems a big gap between the objectives of 
education system and the development of an individual as well as cumulative 
human resource. A host of reasons can be instantly spotted for distressing 
public education infrastructure and the policy implementation, but the 
education policy itself needs radical repairs. 

English language in Pakistan is an identity marker, a tool of vertical social 
mobility, and a mean to access prestigious jobs in the country and abroad. 
Whether pleasant or horrid, it is a rampant reality. Quite a lot has been said 
about English in Pakistan and some genuine research has solidly established 
this actuality. Thus, if English is not taught at all schools as a compulsory 
subject from grade one, it will create social class differences between 
English and Urdu medium education. In fact this phenomenon is already well 
spread and has shown its effects which, in addition to other problems, has 
resulted in social disharmony. The eventual taxonomy of education in Urdu and 
English mediums has also been hazardous to the national language status of 
Urdu. For instance, quality and value is usually associated to English medium 
education while Urdu medium education would be perceived as unsophisticated 
and dismal quality education. It leads young learners think about perhaps any 
inherent incapability with Urdu as a language for quality education. 

English and Urdu need to go side by side in the education system as two 
compulsory languages even from pre-school level. Nevertheless, at present 
teaching English commences from grade six. However, in many public elementary 
schools in Punjab English is being taught from grade one by contractual 
English teachers. In the existing public educational complex, English is the 
medium of instruction for social sciences and pure sciences from higher 
secondary (11th grade) level onward. For social sciences like economics, 
sociology, political science, psychology and few others, students can opt for 
instruction in English or Urdu. In public schools, students study sciences in 
Urdu till the 10th grade. From the 11th grade all science education is in 
English. This transition from Urdu to English is a significant stumbling block 
for many students. At the same time, this incongruity is another pertinent 
reason that solicits changing medium of instruction for science education in 
schools. Pakistan does not have enough academic resources for science 
education. There is growing reliance on international resources for science 
education, which are adapted and translated into Urdu for public sector 
schools. The private sector is already using English as medium of instruction 
for science education. Because large financial resources are involved in 
accessing latest versions of scientific developments in Urdu, usually science 
textbooks are not updated. Consequently, students rely on somewhat outdated 
editions of science textbooks which are neither interestingly organized nor 
current. English as a medium of instruction will make accessing wide range of 
scientific resources easy and less expensive. Urdu translation will not be 
required and even the Internet can be used as a ready resource. Introduction 
of English as medium of instruction will have rejuvenating impact on the 
quality of science education. 

Polytechnic education undoubtedly entails immediate ministration. The current 
plight of polytechnic education demands multidimensional upgradation in areas 
like syllabus design, teacher training, and adequate technical equipments. 
Numerous polytechnic institutions already in the country are sites of student 
conflicts and unsubstantial technical education by any standard. Operating 
with resource-starved facilities, these institutions aspire for capacity 
building to cater the demands of motivated students for effective technical 
education. However, advancing polytechnic training should not be at the cost 
of other academic disciplines like arts, humanities, social sciences, and 
basic sciences. The policy overhaul needs a balance in order to beget tangible 
and lasting success.  

Education is a provincial subject and every province will set its own 
priorities. If national educational policy process will also involve provinces 
and a coordinated policy framework is negotiated, it would be probably a 
concrete and feasible plan. On the higher education front, tremendous 
developments have been made in recent years. This phenomenal advancement is a 
reflection of well-coordinated work of federal and provincial institutions. 
Over the past five years, higher education policy has been quite successful in 
establishing and strengthening universities and degree awarding institutions 
(DAI).  The following table shows this amazingly bullish trend: 

                New Public and Private Institutions Founded
Period           Public       Private           Public       Private
              Universities  Universities         DAIs          DAIs

1947-1998          25            10                3             5 
1999-2005          22            26                5             13
(Source: The HEC, 5 Dec, 2005)

New education policy reformation may not prove to be panacea, but realization 
for rectification seems apposite. A thorough diagnosis followed by concerted 
policy formulation would certainly enhance chances of success. Flow of 
adequate resources and effective implementation will be two very pivotal 
independent variables to the success of new policy. Addressing these issues 
would help plugging holes in the education system of the country. It is 
commendable that perhaps for the first time the minister for education has so 
candidly reflected upon the policy and vowed repairs of fault lines. Capturing 
this scenario in policy is the first step, which would entail optimal 
implementation of the reformation. On the contrary, the policy repairs are 
likely to be buried in the piles of ministerial manuscripts. 

More information about the Edling mailing list