No education without teachers

In a country where education is a privilege and not a basic right, it is no surprise that teachers are under trained and under valued in Pakistan. With salaries of approximately 1,300 teachers in Sindh being withheld for political reasons, it is clear that we take our educators for granted.

Teachers are responsible for the education of our children, for ensuring they are taught not only their courses but also how to be good, responsible people. They are the people teaching children and imparting knowledge in their most impressionable years. And they are who direct and guide the youth with what they teach. Teachers play a pivotal role in a child’s life, yet, their importance is constantly undermined.

These individuals, who are in charge of ensuring that our children grow up to be learned, well rounded students and human beings are not only mistreated but also mostly untrained. Around 50% of all students in Pakistan, which amounts to approximately 35,000 children, drop out of schools every year as a result of being beaten by their teachers. Furthermore, it is estimated that Pakistan needs an additional 525,000 teachers to achieve universal primary education by 2015, as required by goal 2 of the Millennium Development Goals.

In order to improve and promote our education system, the first step is to make sure we have adequate, trained teachers who are capable of teaching Pakistan’s next generation.

Pakistan lagging behind in MDGs

With only 2.3% of its GDP being spent on education, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be able to achieve its goal of providing universal primary education by 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in 2000 by the United Nations and consisted of eight international development goals, of which goal number 2 pertains to education. All UN member states, including Pakistan, have committed to achieving these goals by 2015. 

Goal 2 states that all countries must “ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.” However, keeping in mind the state of education in Pakistan, not many think it is possible for Pakistan to achieve this.

According to the “Pakistan Millennium Development Goals Report 2010” by UNDP, the net enrolment at primary level in Pakistan remained below 60% until 2008-2009 after which it has improved marginally over time. However, the completion rate of primary education has decreased drastically over the past few years. Though Pakistan’s literacy rate has improved, it is no where near the 88% required by the MDGs.

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According to official statistics by the World Bank, Pakistan’s primary education completion rate is 66.80% which puts it towards the bottom in the world ranking chart.

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Furthermore, according to the 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring report, approximately 5.1 million children in Pakistan are out of school, which is the second highest number in the world,  63% of who are girls.

It also states that 36% of Pakistanis have neither completed their primary schooling nor have the skills they would require in order to work.

With less than a 1000 days remaining till the deadline for MDGs, Pakistan needs a complete overhaul of its education system and policies. However, even with a complete change in the education system, it is improbable that Pakistan will be able to cover the shortfall in achieving goal 2. Nevertheless, rather than be deterred by the thought of not being likely to achieve its goals, the government should try to come as close to the achieving the targets as it can.

JI to have Education Ministry in KPK

JI-support-PTI

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have reached a decision regarding power-sharing in Khyber PakhtunKhwa. According to their agreement, JI will have three ministries, one of which will be the Education Ministry. However, keeping in mind the differences in both parties’ education manifestos, the question arises whether either party will be able to do much for the education sector in KPK.

Though both parties do agree on certain points, such as Urdu should be made the medium of instruction in all schools, the biggest variance in both parties stance on education comes in the form of GDP allocation. PTI had promised to increase GDP allocation for education from 2%, as it is currently, to 5%. JI does not even mention GDP allocation in its manifesto.

Furthermore, PTI’s manifesto claimed it would focus on girls’ education and would double the number of high schools for girls in the next five years. However, the issue of female education does not come up in JI’s manifesto. Along with this, PTI mentions improving existing government educational institutions while JI has talked about a unified education system that focuses on Islamic teaching and about introducing English, Math and other subjects in madrassa curricula. Along with this, PTI stated that it would focus on adult literacy for the 15-30 age bracket, another issue that JI does not talk about.

On the other hand, JI has mentioned it will focus on technical and vocational education and that costs of attending colleges of higher professional studies will be given by the government to deserving students from low-income households. In addition to this, JI has said it will introduce legislation for fees and quality control in education. PTI has not talked about any of these issues.

With such discrepancies in their manifestos, it is doubtful if much progress can be made in the education sector in KPK.

Pakistan Coalition for Education

Pakistan Coalition for Education

Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) was established in 2005 by a group of like-minded individuals and organization committed to the improvement of quality education in Pakistan. PCE was formed as a result of intense discussions and consultations. It would provide an opportunity to extend the efforts to far out regions and impact the policies at all levels.

The need of having a legal status for the coalition lead to the registration of PCE as ’Society for Access to Quality Education (SAQE)’ under ordinance 1961 in August 2010. Gaining a confidence as advocacy network is the most difficult aspect that was attained by PCE through joint initiatives and sharing information with all stakeholders through policy advocacy on education issues related to Financing, Governance and Management and Girls’ Education

It works in 65 districts with more than 200 members including local Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Non Government Organizations (NGOs), Parents’ and Teachers Associations, civil society networks working on women and child rights and education, and equally importantly with the Media (e.g. education reporters associations) and representatives of relevant education departments.