The Punjab government is working to bring three new education bills that aim to change the mechanisms of school education in the province.
The bills – Punjab Educational Professionals Standards Council Bill 2018, Punjab Private Education Reform Bill 2018 and Punjab School Truancy and Compulsory Admission Bill 2018 – target specific areas of the school education infrastructure in the province, as part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) move to ‘transform’ the education sector. The provincial government has termed it ‘The New Deal 2023’.
The proposals were floated Punjab School Education Minister Murad Raas in a press conference the other day. During the press conference, Raas said a comprehensive strategy had been finalised to achieve the goals, adding that short, medium and long term measures were being employed to introduce much needed reforms in public schools.
“Access to education, provision of quality education and improving the overall standard of government schools are our main agenda, as school education is the most important tier of the educational system,” the minister said.
The Punjab Educational Professionals Standards Council Bill 2018 will target teachers and aims to set standards for the teaching profession at the school level. The bill’s objective is to define a performance management framework for teachers and educational managers at tehsil, district and province levels. The minister said teachers transfer policy would also be reviewed.
The second bill, Punjab Private Education Reform Bill 2018, will target private schools in the province and will set a mechanism to regulate the same. During the press conference, Raas said permission would not be granted to open substandard schools in every nook and corner. He said unregistered private schools should immediately get themselves registered with the School Education Department.
The Punjab School Truancy and Compulsory Admission Bill 2018 has been prepared with the objective to regulate the school system and to improve the matters pertaining to the schooling of the students. The minister said parents would be made liable to sending their children to schools under the proposed law.
Giving details of the priorities of the department for the next five years, the minister said the education in primary schools would be imparted in Urdu, while English would be taught as a subject at a later stage. “Double shift is being introduced in selected primary schools of 20 districts along with setting up 200 science labs and 100 libraries. Girl-friendly toilets will be constructed and ECE related initiatives will be extended as well,” he said.
Raas said Central Model High School Lower Mall would be upgraded as a model school and health room and filtration plant would also be established there. He said compulsory sports would be introduced and the programme regarding provision of bicycles to students in 20 districts would also be extended. Similarly, the minister said health programme was also being launched in 1,700 selected schools. “Affected school structures are also being restored in flood-affected areas of the province,” he added.
As part of the government’s austerity measures, the minister said a sum of Rs 580 million had been saved by open competitive bidding at the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board for the procurement of textbooks for 2019-20 session. Similarly, Rs 20 million would be saved annually by merging three separate offices of Punjab Education Foundation in Lahore, Raas added.