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2020: What Lies in Store For Education Sector

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With well over 16 months’ worth of experience under its belt, it is time the PTI government begins delivering on the promises it made with regards to education and reforms in the sector. We look at things that might unfold as the year 2020 moves ahead.

 new decade begins, 2020 has arrived, and it appears this year the education sector of Pakistan will be experiencing a touch of rejuvenation or so tell the claims made by the current office-holders. For Pakistanis, unfulfilled promises are not entirely a vexing concern anymore. Nonetheless, the optimists in us never cease to hope that change will come, and the country will find apprehended consolation in the form of societal reformation. So, what is it really that we the ever hopeful Pakistani’s expect in this year from the stakeholders of education?There are four key promises that we presume will be delivered by the current policy-makers. And these are not whims of some writer sitting at a desk, punching keys and weaving stories, but the words of the federal minister of education, Dr Shafqat Mehmood, which we hope don’t end up free-falling toward the periphery of an abyss.

 

Agenda Items

In an interview with the Academia Magazine in 2019, the minister clearly outlined the key focus areas of PTI govt, as far as education and its development are concerned. From catering to out-of-school-children, deciding on a single national curriculum, improving quality of education, skill-building, to adding the fifth dimension of increasing the overall literacy rate, the policy-makers have vowed to achieve several goals.  According to estimates, an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 are currently out-of-school. The challenge is to provide education to the underprivileged, disadvantaged children living in the remotest areas of the country. 

In major cities where education is relatively more accessible, the inherent social polarity and economic disparity continue to hamper all possible moves to ensure systematic uniformity. Therefore, it is important to understand that the provision of education is not a one-way road. Economic constraints often end-up determining the course a child’s future might take in Pakistan’s education system. In the less than idyllic educational scape, there is already so many out-of-school that any further burden on the economy might force the ones who do try attending, a shove out of the school doors too.

 

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood has outlined four key focus areas: out-of-school-children, single national curriculum, improving quality of education and skill-building and increasing overall literacy rate

 

Education is not an individual concern; it has socio-economic implications. Therefore, proper budgetary provisions, active remodelling of the system, and proper facilitation of infrastructure are all needed for reforming the system of education.For real growth of the education sector, it is pivotal to provide standardized education. There are many places in this country where schools are deprived of basic facilities, proper buildings or even sitting spaces. If the government truly wants to improve the education sector perhaps, building better schools would be a good start. 

 

Curricular Reform

A uniform national curriculum can help reduce the ever-widening gap between private and public schools, but enforcing it would require more than said effort. As per the announcement made by the federal minister for education, a single curriculum model is to be introduced in March this year. The move, as mentioned earlier, is a step in the right direction since it will provide the same footing and level playing field for student across the board. Implementation of a national curriculum can come as a relief for low-income families who have been forced to send their children to substandard private schools in their localities. For these schools have been believed to provide better education due to the continued abysmal state of public schools. However, focusing on the medium of instruction only ensures that the question of educational infrastructure and course-building does not surface. People continue to believe that the strengthening of the education system lies with changing the language. When, in fact, the focus should be on the facilitation of education and concept building of students with the help of focused teaching through an updated syllabus.

Ideological change can also play a pivotal role in mobilizing the education sector. Girls’ education should, therefore, be paid close attention. The number of girls who are out-of-school face a massive impediment in the form of social resistance. Until and unless the girl-child is provided education, there can be no true reform. Inclusive education is one aspect most governments have failed to take note of. The sheer neglect suffered by children with special needs over years needs to be rectified. When the aim is to provide education.

 

Managing Illiteracy

The fifth dimension is rather contestable considering that literacy rates maybe empirical indicators but they cannot truly reveal the state of education in a country. What is needed is revisiting the parameters of determining the literacy rate. Literacy rate does not determine the success of educational reforms. The reformation of a system of education lies in progressive changes in the curriculum. The focus should be on the content taught in schools at various stages. Changing the medium of instruction, setting difficult papers, shunning the repertoire of language, are not solutions for the promotion of education. 

Murad Raas, Punjab’s school education minister, says government will steer away from ‘bricking model’ and focus on quality of educatio

In words of Murad Rass, the focus of PTI govt is to steer away from the ‘bricking model’ and focus on the quality of education. The minister responsible for the school education says digitization is the heart of the present government’s educational reforms. The overall effort towards digitizing processes is the core of official initiatives it seems. From E-transfer to E-governance, there is an apparent effort being made to revolutionize, and pace-up process. However, it is revamping schools and providing model facilities to children is what should be a top priority for those deciding the fate of education. In 2020, what Pakistanis expect are results and not promises. What is hoped for is visible improvements and tangible reforms. There is much on the government’s agenda, but time will tell whether deliverance is on the list or not.