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Old February 3rd, 2005, 10:30 PM   #1
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The Education Thread

Brunei To Finance US$2.6 Million Pakistan Foreign Service Institute
By Azlan Othman

BANDER SERI BEGAWAN - Brunei government has agreed to finance the US$2.6 million training institute for Pakistan Foreign Service.

"The Pakistani government is extremely grateful to His Majesty and Brunei government for funding this project.

"This is a very handsome grant from Brunei. We look forward to receiving diplomats from Brunei. We will be reserving a particular section of this building for Bruneian diplomats," said Mr Riaz H. Khokhar, Foreign Secretary of the Republic of Pakistan, in an interview yesterday.

"This will be like a hostel. Pakistan Foreign Service trains diplomats from 35 countries from Africa and Asia. This is one of the principal agreements that we've reached in my talks with my Brunei counterparts," he said.

"Pakistan runs a comprehensive one-year training programme. Our Foreign Service officers are trained in this institute. We also train diplomats from other countries. The idea is to create bonding.

"If we study together, this would be a long-lasting friendship. It is in this context that I have offered to my friends from Brunei Foreign Office.

"I want to get more people from Brunei to train in Islamabad. We offer a number of training facilities to Brunei people in a number of institutions, including the Armed Forces," he added.

Mr Riaz also said that Pakistan greatly valued the visit made by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei last year. His Majesty and Gen. Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, discussed a number of issues of bilateral interests and on the region.

"We've also plans in the future to create joint investment companies, which will use the money to be contributed equally by both countries, for projects in Brunei and Pakistan. The idea is to expand economic relations," he said.

Touching on major international issues, he said, both countries have common interests. "We are both members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Commonwealth, which make us partners."

Mr Riaz also extended his invitation to HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah to attend the Asian Cooperation Development meeting scheduled to be held in Pakistan in April. This is Mr Riaz's first visit to the Sultanate.

"I regret I have not been here earlier. I am really awestruck by the greenery and natural environment. I am happy to be here in Brunei," he said. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

http://www.brudirect.com/DailyInfo/N...205/nite03.htm
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Old March 8th, 2005, 12:47 AM   #2
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The Education Thread

Book fair puts Lahore back on literary map



LAHORE: The city of Lahore, renowned for food, fun and heritage, has launched a strong bid to regain its position as the literary capital of the region, as hundreds of thousands turned up at the Lahore International Book fair to lap up a varied selection of books.

The five-day event at the Fortress Stadium Expo Hall, which ended on Monday, boasted over 150 publishing houses and booksellers from Pakistan and the UK and USA, and nearly 50 from India.

“There were hundreds of thousands of people at the Fair and the response was overwhelming,” said Gautam Jetley of the Asia Educational Services from New Delhi. “People’s interest in books and their buying power here in Lahore was amazing, actually far better than anything like this in Delhi. We had to refill the stall at least three to four times in these five days to keep up with demand. Most of the customers were serious buyers and not browsers. A lady turned up on Sunday and bought titles worth Rs 30,000 in a few minutes and walked away. Our sales went far beyond expectations,” said Gautam whose, publishing house deals in old prints on history and philosophy. “The warmth of Lahore and people’s passion for books are memories which will stay with me,” he added.

The fair, the first ever on this scale in Lahore, was organised by a special management committee of the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association, whose secretary-general is Najam Sethi, the publisher of Vanguard Books and the editor of The Friday Times/Daily Times.

Pankaj Bhardwaj of Orient Longman was delighted by the interest in his books in the last five days. “It was a truly wonderful experience as I have rarely seen so many people at a book fair. The sales were tremendous. In fact we had to close the stall for a while during the fair as we ran out of stock,” said Bhardwaj.

He added that it was time for India and Pakistan to open up business opportunities for traders. “I would love to have a publishing partner here in Pakistan as I can see tremendous potential in the market for books in this city,” said Bhardwaj. “Most of our clients were youngsters interested in paperback fiction, but there were also lots of academics and intellectuals who bought serious stuff on history and philosophy.”

Elsevier, a foreign publisher which specialises in medical, science and computer books, registered a great response from Lahorites. “Sales went far beyond expectations. My stalls were thronged by over 500 people every day and most of them were serious buyers. It was a great opportunity for us to make our presence felt and we would definitely like to return,” said Mohammed Javed, the sales manager at the Elsevier stall.

Specialist publishers also did extremely well. Naeem Tahir, salesman at Qudratullah Publishing House, which prints only the Holy Quran and related literature, said: “Though we are a non-profit organisation, our sales were far, far better than we expected. More than 300 people visited our stall every day for five days and we had to replenish our stock,” said Tahir.

Mr Sethi said that the idea behind the fair was to put Lahore back on the literary map of South Asia. “People used to say that Lahoris are only interested in eating and outings but the roaring success of the fair proves that Lahoris today are as much into reading and writing as they were a few decades back. This fair has proved that Lahore will again lay claim to being the cultural and intellectual centre of the region that it once was”, he claimed.

Mr Sethi explained that “when the idea was being mooted, many of his colleagues thought that not more than 50 publishers would turn up and they expected an average show, but look at the number of publishers who queued up to make this event a landmark one.” Next year, the show promises to be bigger and better as the managing committee has got inquiries from major publishing houses from Iran, the US and the Middle East.

Mr Sethi was generous in his praise for many friends and colleagues and benefactors. “My thanks go out to Punjab Governor Lt Gen (r) Khalid Maqbool who was the chief patron of the book fair, and Lahore Corps Commander Lt Gen Shahid Aziz, who let us organise the event at the Fortress Stadium Expo Halls. Also I would like to thank friends and fellow publishers Majeed Nizami, Arif Nizami, Mir Shakilur Rehman, Hameed Haroon and Zia Shahid, who helped make the event a success by donating free ad space in their papers. I would also like to thank our sponsors Ali Habib of Indus Motors, Ms Musharraf Hai of Unilever, Union Bank’s Shaukat Tarin, Coca Cola, UNESCO, TCS, FM 89 and FM 100, without whom the event would not have been possible,” said Mr Sethi.

Noted Lahori businessman Salmaan Taseer was also a major silent supporter of the event. This was manifest in the number of free ads of the event sponsored by Daily Times and WorldCall Multimedia on satellite cable.
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Old April 24th, 2005, 12:00 AM   #3
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Design of Seerat academy

Design of Seerat academy

LAHORE, April 21: Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi ordered on Thursday immediate implementation of the project of Seerat academy and Quran complex in the city. He also accorded final approval to the design of the academy and the complex which would be built at a cost of Rs300 million over 47 kanals in Upper Mall scheme. — Staff Reporter
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Old May 25th, 2005, 05:14 PM   #4
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Nice.

Good to know that not all the money is beind spent on making the biigest cinema houses and 6 star hotels.

Cant wait to see the building completed.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 05:52 PM   #5
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The Education Thread

Government decides to give at least 4% of GDP to education from 2006-07

RAWALPINDI: The government has decided to commit at least four percent of GDP to education from the next financial year and to open ‘tent schools’ in areas of Azad Kashmir and NWFP devastated by the October 8 earthquake.

The decision was taken at a meeting at Army House chaired by President General Pervez Musharraf and attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, among others.

A team of officials from the Education Ministry, UNICEF and non-governmental organisations is to submit a report early next week detailing the requirements for the resumption of educational activities in the quake-hit areas.

“The report will take into account all aspects for rebuilding the edifice of the education system in these areas,” Education Minister Javed Ashraf Qazi later told APP.

The federal government will provide the NWFP and AJK governments large tents capable of housing about 40 students each. These ‘tent schools’ will also be provided textbooks, stationary and other education material.

In remarks at the meeting, Gen Musharraf said education provided a strong foundation for long-term progress and the country must strive to improve the quality of education.

He said the standard of exams given by all education boards should be made uniform so there is less confusion at the time of university admissions. One way of doing this might be to reduce the number of education boards, he suggested.

Gen Musharraf endorsed the government’s decision to introduce English as a compulsory subject from class I. The meeting also decided to step up implementation of the President’s Education Reforms Initiatives with the Education Ministry monitoring progress in coordination with provincial departments.

A federal management system will coordinate its operations with the provinces to compile a database of education scenarios across the country.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the government is committed to human resource development and would make required finances available to raise the education budget from 2.7 to 4 percent of GDP.

It was also agreed that the academic year should start in August simultaneously all over the country except at places where schools are closed during winter. A conference of the education ministers of the four provinces would make a decision in this regard.

The meeting also decided that provinces, rather than districts, would deal with higher secondary education. “That would lead to more focus on enhancing the quality of education in colleges,” the education minister said.

The districts will be responsible for managing education up to matriculation level.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 06:27 PM   #6
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Great News!

Education is the only way Pakistan will get to the next level and English is a must. Education will make poverty history.
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 09:56 PM   #7
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The Education Thread

Good! this was very much needed.


KARACHI: ‘Free high school education from 2006’

KARACHI, Nov 22: Sindh Education Minister Hamida Khuhro said on Tuesday that free education up to high school would be introduced in the province from the academic session 2006.

She was speaking at a seminar, the last segment of a two-day media orientation workshop on “Education for all”, organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation in collaboration with Unesco.

“Students would get free textbooks besides a stipend of Rs100 for regular attendance,” the minister added.

Over 30 journalists drawn from different districts of Sindh, including Karachi, representing national and local dailies and electronic media attended the workshop.

Dr Khuhro rejected the notion that the federal government had allocated a mere 1.8 per cent of the GDP for education. She said that the federal minister for education told in a meeting that the budgetary allocation during the current fiscal for education was 2.7 per cent of the GDP. The allocations would be enhanced to 4 per cent in next two years, she added.

Dr Khuhro said that the government had sufficient funds. The only thing needed was the political will and motivation.

Referring to the situation prevailing in Sindh, the minister said there was a dismal situation in the province having thousands of shelter less schools besides the schools devoid of all the basic facilities like water, toilets, electricity, boundary walls etc.

“We want to lay down a comprehensive education plan to improve the situation,” she said.

The minister was of the view that there was a wide gap between the primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in the province that again were faced with shortage of teachers.

The Higher Education Commission is focussing on producing specialized persons but such targets could not be achieved if the foundation is not made sound, she added.

“We have recruited some teachers and more would be recruited soon. We will impart training to these teachers before they join the duties so that they could be able to impart quality education,” Dr Khuhro said.

She told that a Reform Support Unit was being set up to monitor and evaluate the progress made towards achieving the goal besides creating a database and networking of all the educational institutions.

The government is also introducing English as a subject from class one but this should not be construed as negating the local languages. In fact, it would be totally against the interest of people not to teach English to their children, she viewed.

To a question from the participants, the minister told that the chairman of the Sindh Textbook Board had denied that a lesson about Shah Abdul Karim of Bulri, a Sufi poet of Sindh, was being deleted from the textbooks.

Earlier, chairperson of the Sindh Education Foundation and former provincial education minister Prof Anita Ghulamali in her speech called for imparting primary education to the children in their mother tongues.

“I had been advocating that the basic education should be in the language in which a child dreams and that is his mother tongue,” she observed.

She also emphasized on enhancing the budgetary allocations for the education sector at least up to 4 per cent of the GDP.

Senior journalist Sabihuddin Ghausi lamented that money was the priority of the media organizations that could be testified by the fact that the newspapers were full of advertisements, even their front and back pages, leaving very little space for social issues.

Prof Shahida Qazi, former chairperson of the KU’s mass communication department, deplored that the VIPs and philanthropists often visited and offered donations to the well-off institutions instead of those in dire need of assistance.

Earlier, Unesco representative from Islamabad, Arshad Saeed and PPF Secretary-General Owais Aslam Ali also spoke.—PPI

Source: http://www.dawn.com/2005/11/23/local11.htm
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 11:11 PM   #8
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good post...now this needs to be extended to include the whole of the country.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 12:52 AM   #9
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Other than that, Sindh, Punjab and NWFP will also have free education by 06.

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Old December 15th, 2005, 07:58 AM   #10
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The Education Thread

By Our Correspondent

PESHAWAR, Dec 14: The Myongji University of Korea will provide technical assistance to the NWFP UET for setting up the “Pakistan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (PAIST)” on the pattern of Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).

This was stated by the Myongi University’s Dean, External Affairs, Jong Gie Kim, in a meeting held here on Wednesday. The Korean delegates discussed a detailed plan with the UET to initially set up the Institute of Alternate Energy Resources, Institute of Bio-Engineering and Institute of Mines and Materials.

He said Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Attaur Rehman, during his recent visit to Korea, had discussed with the president of KIST the possibilities of establishing a university of science and technology on the pattern of the KIST. The aim was to promote continuous economic development and industrialisation of research programmes. On the proposal of Dr Atta, the Korean government decided to provide technical assistance to Pakistani government in this regard, he added.

“Unlike conventional universities, this institution will offer research-led teaching programmes and will directly involve experts from industries and produce professionals who will identify market needs and solve real life problems”, he added.

Director Finance and Planning Sarwar Khan, while briefing the audience, said the proposed university would be built in Jalozai where a 400-kanal piece of land had already been acquired for this purpose.

He said the work on this project would commence from July 2006 with the financial assistance of the federal government. The role of UET Peshawar would be to oversee construction and management of this project and to make it self sufficient entity in future.

Dean of Engineering Prof Dr Muhammad Mansoor Khan, Registrar Imtiaz Ahmad Khan Durrani and other senior faculty members and administrative staff were also present on the occasion. Prof Mansoor Khan presented university crest to the visiting team.

http://www.dawn.com/2005/12/15/nat43.htm
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Old December 15th, 2005, 08:21 AM   #11
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singaporean i greatly appreciate your posts in the pakistani forums its great to see you here...im just curious are u from singapore or pakistan....
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Old December 15th, 2005, 08:28 AM   #12
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I belong to both pakistan & singapore. im pakistani 1st then singaporean.Thax for askin, if u have further query u r most welcome!!!
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Old December 15th, 2005, 08:53 AM   #13
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KARACHI: PMDC enrolls 11 private institutions

KARACHI, Dec 14: As many as 11 private medical institutions throughout the country have been included in the list of permanent members of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. According to a government notification released recently by the federal government, the names of medical education institutions were recommended by the PMDC in 2003 and conveyed to the Ministry of Health for notification.

The medical institutions which were deemed to be included in different PMDC schedules for representations on the council under council’s 1962 ordinance are as follows:

Aga Khan Medical University Karachi (Schedule III-A), Bahria University Islamabad (III-A), Baqai Medical University Karachi (I, III-A and V), Fatima Jinnah Dental College Karachi(V), Frontier Medical College Peshawar (I), Hamdard Medical University Karachi (I, III-A and V), Kabir Medical and Dental College Peshawar (I and V), Isra University Hyderabad (I and III-A), Islamic International Medical College Rawalpindi (I), Sardar Begum Dental College Peshawar (V) and Ziauddin Medical University Karachi (I and III-A).
http://www.dawn.com/2005/12/15/local2.htm
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Old December 15th, 2005, 03:37 PM   #14
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hey dude you havent posted this in the right forum. plz be more considerate next time. thnxz. :thumsup: btw...keep posting...but in the right one
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Old December 15th, 2005, 05:46 PM   #15
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The Education Thread

Make this a sticky. There is so much going on in Pakistan about education. It is one of the most important things.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 05:47 PM   #16
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Plan under way to check dropout rate

ISLAMABAD (PPI) - The federal government to prevent alarming dropout rate at primary level is considering a scheme in which Rs 200 will be paid to those students who maintain at least 70 per cent attendance.
The scheme would be alike of Punjab government’s “Educated Punjab” for other three provinces where the dropout rate had mounted up in last 10 years, sources told here Thursday.
The scheme is designed not only to encourage the parents but also aimed to bridge the gap between education and poor men created by the poverty and social customs. He further said that alarming dropout rate of female students at primary level in the rural areas of Balochistan, Sindh and NWFP in last ten-year increased as 40, 30, and 25 per cent respectively.
Furthermore, only eight per cent of the female students enrolled at primary level could complete their secondary school education.
Federal minister for Education Javed Ashraf Qazi was told that among various factors, social and economic conditions of the parents were major cause for this high dropout. More than one fifth of the girls students have to abandoned their secondary education merely because their parents could not afford the cost, he was further apprised.
Therefore, the federal government considered that why not a scheme alike “Educated Punjab” be set out in other three provinces to increase enrollment at schools.
Under the scheme Rs 200 per month would be paid as stipend to those female students who will maintain at least 70 attendance besides books and free education up to Matric promised.
Promotion of extra-curricular activities stressed
Minister for Housing and Works, Syed Safwanullah on Thursday called for need of extra-curricular activities in the educational institutions to improve personality of students.
He said that the prime objective of education is to improve individual’s character and bring positive changes in ones life.
Speaking at a quiz competition on Ramazan here at City School, the minister said, our religion gives special emphasis on education, which enlightens the minds. Appreciating the quiz competition, he said, such a programme should continue to generate religious interest among the children.
He regretted that attention was not being given to Islamic education as compared to other subjects in educational institutions.
“No doubt, modern education is need of the hour, but it is also imperative that the religious education be given special attention,” he added.
He suggested that in schools, at least one period on daily basis should be dedicated to religious education to impart Islamic teachings to the children.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 06:08 PM   #17
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There will be free education in pakistan till the 10th grade class from 2006. The ppl in the poorest areas of pakistan like the desert areas in southern punjab will be paid money to send their children to school, especially girls. IMO mush's gov is doing a lot to increase pakistan literacy rate.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 06:09 PM   #18
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Free books up to matric from 2006



LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has announced that the government will provide free textbooks to all public school students up to matriculation from next year.

He was addressing a ceremony held to dispatch free books to the last two districts of the province, Muzaffargarh and Dera Ghazi Khan, at the Punjab Textbook Board on Wednesday.

This decision will be helpful in achieving the target of 100 percent literacy in the province, the chief minister said. The government has provided more than 20 million textbooks for the students of around 63,000 schools in 34 district of Punjab, he said. Around 10.2 million students have benefited from this scheme, which cost the government Rs 650 million, he said. The number of students enrolled in public schools has risen by one million in one year in Punjab, he added.

Mr Elahi said the scheme whereby girl students were getting monthly stipends of Rs 200 would be expanded to other districts. He said Rs 175 million for the provision of transport facilities to students of special education centres would be set aside.

Kamran Rasool, Punjab chief secretary, said there had been a 13 percent increase in the number of students enrolled in public schools. He said that free books would be available to students from April 15. Mian Imran Masood, Punjab education minister, also spoke on the occasion.

Elahi awards medal to top MA special education student: Chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has awarded a gold medal and Rs 100,000 to Zara Hussain, a deaf girl who came first in the Punjab University’s Masters of Arts in the special education annual examinations 2004.

At a ceremony arranged by the Punjab Textbook Board on Thursday, Elahi announced an award, chief minister’s special education gold medal and a cash prise of Rs 100,000, for students who came first in the MA special education annual examinations every year. At present, Hussain is studying at a college in the US and has also earned a distinction there. She is the first deaf person to achieve this distinction in South Asia. Elahi said that Hussain had set a shining example for others by winning a gold medal in the MA examinations. Hussain thanked the Punjab government for the award. She said that her studies were tough, but she worked hard. She thanked her family, especially her mother, and teachers. “I have proved that deaf children can also succeed,” she said. She urged special children to work hard and said that she would devote her life to serve them.
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Old December 15th, 2005, 06:10 PM   #19
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KARACHI: ‘Free high school education from 2006’

KARACHI, Nov 22: Sindh Education Minister Hamida Khuhro said on Tuesday that free education up to high school would be introduced in the province from the academic session 2006.

She was speaking at a seminar, the last segment of a two-day media orientation workshop on “Education for all”, organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation in collaboration with Unesco.

“Students would get free textbooks besides a stipend of Rs100 for regular attendance,” the minister added.

Over 30 journalists drawn from different districts of Sindh, including Karachi, representing national and local dailies and electronic media attended the workshop.

Dr Khuhro rejected the notion that the federal government had allocated a mere 1.8 per cent of the GDP for education. She said that the federal minister for education told in a meeting that the budgetary allocation during the current fiscal for education was 2.7 per cent of the GDP. The allocations would be enhanced to 4 per cent in next two years, she added.

Dr Khuhro said that the government had sufficient funds. The only thing needed was the political will and motivation.

Referring to the situation prevailing in Sindh, the minister said there was a dismal situation in the province having thousands of shelter less schools besides the schools devoid of all the basic facilities like water, toilets, electricity, boundary walls etc.

“We want to lay down a comprehensive education plan to improve the situation,” she said.

The minister was of the view that there was a wide gap between the primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in the province that again were faced with shortage of teachers.

The Higher Education Commission is focussing on producing specialized persons but such targets could not be achieved if the foundation is not made sound, she added.

“We have recruited some teachers and more would be recruited soon. We will impart training to these teachers before they join the duties so that they could be able to impart quality education,” Dr Khuhro said.

She told that a Reform Support Unit was being set up to monitor and evaluate the progress made towards achieving the goal besides creating a database and networking of all the educational institutions.

The government is also introducing English as a subject from class one but this should not be construed as negating the local languages. In fact, it would be totally against the interest of people not to teach English to their children, she viewed.

To a question from the participants, the minister told that the chairman of the Sindh Textbook Board had denied that a lesson about Shah Abdul Karim of Bulri, a Sufi poet of Sindh, was being deleted from the textbooks.

Earlier, chairperson of the Sindh Education Foundation and former provincial education minister Prof Anita Ghulamali in her speech called for imparting primary education to the children in their mother tongues.

“I had been advocating that the basic education should be in the language in which a child dreams and that is his mother tongue,” she observed.

She also emphasized on enhancing the budgetary allocations for the education sector at least up to 4 per cent of the GDP.

Senior journalist Sabihuddin Ghausi lamented that money was the priority of the media organizations that could be testified by the fact that the newspapers were full of advertisements, even their front and back pages, leaving very little space for social issues.

Prof Shahida Qazi, former chairperson of the KU’s mass communication department, deplored that the VIPs and philanthropists often visited and offered donations to the well-off institutions instead of those in dire need of assistance.

Earlier, Unesco representative from Islamabad, Arshad Saeed and PPF Secretary-General Owais Aslam Ali also spoke.—PPI
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Old December 15th, 2005, 06:20 PM   #20
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PAKISTAN: Focus on improving basic education in Punjab


Nearly one in ten primary schools in Punjab have no buidings at all to work from

With an extensively advertised mass literacy campaign carrying the slogan, 'Our dream - an educated Punjab', the provincial government of Pakistan's most populous province, has been actively trying to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education (UPE) by 2015 through a wide-ranging Education Sector Reform (ESR) programme.

"[The} Punjab's education reform programme that started in 2003 focuses simultaneously on improving access, equity, quality and governance in the education system," Ahmed Javed Qazi, deputy director of monitoring the ESR programme, told IRIN from the provincial capital, Lahore.

Home to almost 84 million people, comprising 55 percent of the total population of the country, Punjab has better education indicators than Pakistan's other three provinces, with an overall literacy rate of over 55 percent.

IMPROVING ACCESS TO PRIMARY EDUCATION

But there is still a long way to go in improving access to education in the province. According to the provincial education department, out of a total school-age population of 11.23 million, over two million children do not attend school. The statistics for children aged 10 to 12 years are higher, with over 4 million children out of school, while for years 13 to 14, the figure stands at 2.37 million.

The education department in Punjab has been facing several problems ranging from enrolment of out of school children, governance and management related issues to lack of infrastructure and facilities. However, low family income with high costs of school materials has long been cited by the educational authorities as the main reason for low attendance rates.

"As a first step to boost enrolment and bring children into schools, the government has not only waived the fee at public-sector schools but has also been providing free textbooks," Qazi said.

Under a phased three-year programme, in 2004, the provincial government provided free textbooks to all the students from grade one to five. "This year, we will cover students up to grade eight while by the next academic year, the programme will be extended to all the students up to grade ten," a provincial education department official said.

To promote female participation, the government last year introduced monthly stipends in about 15 low literacy districts across the province. "Since the start of the programme, some 200,000 girl students of grade six to eight with 80 percent and above school attendance have been awarded a monthly stipend of 200 rupees [about US $3]," Qazi said.

But some education experts are concerned about the government's 'enrolment focussed' policies and lack of concern about the high school dropout rate of over 50 percent.

Pakistan's leading independent rights body, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), pointed out in its annual report for 2004: "Instead of offering financial incentives to join schools, policies aimed at improving the environment at schools, providing trained teachers, [and] making curricula more relevant to children's lives would play a big part both in increasing enrolment and keeping children at schools."

The physical condition of many schools in the province is another factor mitigating against high attendance. Out of more than 50,000 public-sector primary schools - with about 4.5 million students - some 8 percenthave no building, while thousands more are without drinking water, electricity and toilets.

Under the ESR programme, the Punjab government has allocated the major bulk of resources to the provision of basic infrastructure and facilities in educational institutions. "Some 150 million rupees [$2.5 million] have been given to each of the 34 districts for the provision of basic facilities in primary schools. However, the government intends to further enhance the allocations on performance and need basis," Qazi noted.

The ESR programme has been supported by the World Bank through a grant of $300 million over a period of three years from 2004-2006.

UPGRADING TEACHERS

Education authorities in the province have also been taking steps to improve the quality of teaching staff. "The basic requirement for potential teachers has been raised from matriculation to graduation, while the government has launched intensive refresher courses for over 100,000 in-service primary teachers," Qazi added.

The upgrading process of staff has been a challenge, Qazi told IRIN. "To deal with 'teacher absenteeism' and also to acquaint them with modern teaching methods is a huge task. It's difficult to change the routine of in-service teachers," Qazi noted.

Educational experts have welcomed the changes but warn that improvement will only be evident in the long term.

"To improve access in remote areas, reduce the dropout rate, and most importantly, to ensure teachers' presence in schools - only over time can we assess the effectiveness of such measures. This is a good start but we have to ensure the measures are implemented," Shaheen Attique Rehman, head of a Lahore-based NGO working to promote literacy, Bunyad Literacy Community Council (BLCC), told IRIN.
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The ESR programme in Punjab will be subject to independent monitoring and evaluation, which should help with implementation. "All the previous schemes have been missing this [independent monitoring] component, but we are having independent feedback [at] every step to immediately identify if anything goes wrong," Qazi said noting: "Hopefully, it'll help us in achieving the UPE targets in time."
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