Pakistan: Equitable financing urged for education at all levels

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun May 25 00:57:38 UTC 2008

  Equitable financing urged for education at all levels    By Myra Imran
5/24/2008  Islamabad

Participants of the National Consultation on Education Policy Friday said
that instead of formulating a new policy every two years, the government
should focus more on setting up mechanisms and timeframe for its

The recommendations by the participants were presented at the concluding
session of the consultation organised by Pakistan Coalition for Education
(PCE), a network of diverse civil society organisations working for 'Quality
Education for All.'

The participants discussed the draft policy released by the Ministry of
Education seeking recommendations from different stakeholders.

Prominent education and policy experts, provincial coordinators and national
resource group members took part in the discussion. The participants
stressed the need for making education policy an open document available to
stakeholders in Urdu and English and demanded that it be discussed in the

Ali Naqvi, adviser to the Institute for Development Studies and Practices,
suggested that the provinces should be allowed to make their plans according
to local conditions. "The financial allocation for Balochistan on the basis
of population is grossly insufficient and needs to be increased," he said.

Ibrash Pasha, coordinator of the NWFP chapter of PCE, pointed out that in
NWFP schools, especially for girls, were being attacked and there was an
issue of security. He demanded that policies to deal with the situation
should be designed with the participation of local stakeholders.

Pasha said that there was a high dropout rate in schools and recommended
that female teachers must be employed at primary level to address the
problem. He also suggested the state must ensure that seminaries and hybrid
education centres conform to its policies and uphold education standards.

Ammena Saeed from Teachers' Resource Centre (Sindh) highlighted the issue of
political interference in education that had made it difficult to run the
system efficiently in the province. She also drew the attention of the
participants towards the wide rural-urban divide and said that it should be
addressed by ensuring that teachers were available in schools and that
teaching methodologies were child-friendly.

Speaking on higher education, educationist Dr. Pervaiz Hoodbhoy said that
expenditure on universities was many times more than what was being spent on
primary education and colleges. "There must be equitable financing for
education at all levels from early childhood education to higher education,
including teachers' salaries," he said.

He said that an audit of Higher Education Commission (HEC) should be
conducted under NAB or Public Accounts Commission. He pointed out that the
test for PhD students was very basic and selecting those students must be
more specialised so that they could achieve standards that were expected
from them.

Education expert Ismat Riaz of PEC demanded setting up of National Review of
Textbook Board and providing teachers honorable position in society with
high monetary rewards. "We still have not agreed on what should be our
language policy and it is time that we agreed on it," she said.

Highlighting the need for reviewing the Teachers Training Syllabus, Harris
Khaliq, chief executive of the SPO, said that it was of crucial importance
and must meet international standards. "The policy should affirm that the
state would provide free quality education up to high school to all by
2015," he said.
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