Policies and Goals of Education System in Pakistan:
Since independence, attempts have been made to relate the education system to the needs and inspirations of the country. All Education Conference was held in 1947 as per directives of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He provided the basic guidelines for the future development of education by emphasizing interalia, that the education system should suit the genius of our people, consonant with our history, culture and instill the highest sense of honor, integrity, responsibility, and selfless service to the nation. It should also provide scientific and technical knowledge to build up our economic life. This was followed by the appointment of various commissions, which submitted their reports periodically. The 1959 Report of the Commission on National Education enjoys a peculiar position in the history of educational reforms. There were several other commissions and policy statements up to 1973.
In 1973 the civilian democratic government came up with a 1973 constitution which provided that the state shall:
(a) promote unity and observance of the Islamic moral standards;
(b) promote with special care the educational and economic interests of backward areas;
(c) remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period;
(d) make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of merit;
(e) enable the people of different areas, through education , training, agriculture and industrial development , and other methods to participate fully in all form of national activities including employment in the services of Pakistan;
(f) ensure full participation of women in all the spheres of national life.
The above-mentioned goals were pursued by various policy documents announced by subsequent governments who came into power from time to time. Each policy stressed on:
(a) Islamic ideology and character building;
(b) the universalization of primary education and promotion of literacy;
(c) science education;
(d) quality of education; and
(e) reduction in inequalities of educational facilities.
Formal System of Education in Pakistan.
In formal education system, there are a number of stages, which are illustrated in the diagram in Annexure-I as described briefly below:
Pre Primary Schooling: Pre-primary education is functional and managed in schools through out country. Public schools provide pre-primary education as part of socialization process. The students attending pre-primary class are called Kachi. National Education EFA Action Plan Policy, 1998-2010 provided recognition to Kachi class as proxy for early childhood education. According to National Education Policy, 1998-2010, the Kachi class will be introduced as formal class in the primary schools. The age group for pre-primary is <3>5.
This stage consists of five classes I-V and enrolls children of age 5-9 years. Since independence, the policy makers pronounced to make primary education free and compulsory. According to Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (PIHS) 1998-99, the gross participation rate was 71 percent in 1999, for male it was 80 percent and for female it was 61 percent. For urban female it was 92 and for rural it was 50 percent. The lowest participation rate observed for rural female in Sindh Province that was 33 percent. The net enrolment rate was 42 percent, for urban male it was 47 percent and 37 percent for rural female.
The middle schooling is of three years duration and comprised of class VI, VII and VIII. The age group is 10-12 years. The participation rate at middle school was about 34 percent during 2000-2001. Males were 36 percent and females were 33 percent.
The high school children stay for two years in classes IX and X. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education conducts the examination. A certificate of secondary school is awarded to the successful candidates. The participation rate at high school was about 22 percent in 2000-2001 of which, 24 percent were males and 20 percent were females. Vocational Education is normally offered in high schooling. There are varieties of trades offered to the students and after completion of the course they get jobs as carpenters, masons, mechanics, welders, electrician, refrigeration and similar other trades. There are 498 vocational institutions with an enrolment of about 88 thousand in 2001-2002.
Higher Secondary Education:
The higher secondary stage is also called the ďintermediate stageĒ and is considered a part of college education. Higher Secondary Education consists of classes XI to XII. During two years stay in this cycle of education, a student at the age of 16 years in this stage can opt for general education, professional education or technical education. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) conducts the examination and awards a Certificate of Higher Secondary School Education (HSSC). According to 1979 Education Policy, all schools were to be upgraded to higher Secondary Schools. Middle sections of high schools were to be linked with primary schools (designating elementary education). This system has limited success and some problems were experienced. Keeping in view the problems this system is being introduced gradually.
To obtain a degree, 4 years of higher education after 10 years of primary and secondary schooling is required. Students who pass their first-degree stage are awarded a Bachelorís degree in arts or science, typically at the age of 19 years. In order to complete an honors course at Bachelorís degree level an additional one yearís study is required. Further, a two years course is required for Masterís degree who have completed two years Bachelorsí degree. A doctoral degree requires normally 3 years of study after the completion of a masterís degree course.
Professional and Technical Education:
The duration of post secondary education varies in technical and professional fields. The polytechnic diploma is a three-year course. A bachelorís degree in medicine (MBBS) requires 5 years of study after intermediate stage (12 years of schooling). Similarly, a bachelorís degree course both in engineering and veterinary medicine is of 4 yearsí duration after the intermediate examination.
Side by side with modern education system there is also religious education system, which provides Islamic education. These institutions have their own management system without interference from either the provincial or federal governments. However, grants-in-aid are provided to these institutions by the government. During 2000 there were 6761 religious institutions with an enrollment of 934,000, of which 132,000 were female students in 448 institutions (Khan, 2002). Efforts have been made by the present government to bring the Madrassah in the mainstream under Education Sector Reforms. The main purpose of mainstreaming Madrassah is to enlarge employment opportunities for their graduates. Pakistan Madrassah Education Boards are established to regulate the Madaris activities.
There are millions of people in Pakistan who have no access to formal education system. It is not possible for the formal system to meet educational needs of the rapidly growing population. Non-formal Basic Education School scheme has been introduced for those who have no access to formal education. This scheme is very cost-effective. Under this scheme primary education course is taught in forty months. Non-formal schools are opened in those areas where formal schools are not available. Government provides teacherís salary and teaching material whereas community provides school building/room. There are 6371 NFBE schools functioning in the country.
Examinations are usually held annually, which are the main criterion to promote the students to higher classes or to retain them in the same class. However, recently a system of automatic promotion up-to grade-III has been introduced in some schools. In the primary classes, examinations are conducted by the respective schools. However, at the end of the fifth year of the primary stage a public examination is held by the education department for promotion to the next grade. Another examination is held for the outstanding students to compete for the award of merit scholarships. Similarly, the examination in Middle Schools are held by the individual schools but there is a public examination at the end of grade VIII conducted by the Education Department for awarding of scholarships. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) conducts the examinations of Secondary and Higher Secondary. The degree level examinations are conducted by the respective universities.
In Pakistan, there are 90 Colleges of Elementary Education which offer teachersí training programs for Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) and Certificate in Teaching (CT) to primary school teachers. For secondary school teachers, there are 16 Colleges of Education, offering graduate degrees in education and there are departments of education in 9 universities which train teachers at the masterís level. There are only 4 institutions which offer in-service teachersí training. Besides these, the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, offers a very comprehensive teachersí training program based on distance learning; its total enrolment is about 10,000 per annum of which 7,000 complete various courses every year
Private Education Sector:
Private sector involvement in education is encouraging. The Federal Bureau of Statistics survey (1999-2000) indicates that there are 36,096 private educational institutions in Pakistan. About 61 percent of the institutions are in urban areas and 39 percent in rural areas. The percentage share of private sector in enrollment is 18 percent at primary school level, 16 percent at middle school level and 14 percent at high school level.
It has been observed that most of the private schools select their own curricula and textbooks, which are not in conformity with public schools. Majority of the schools are ďEnglish MediumĒ which attracts the parents for sending their children to these schools. Most of the schools are overcrowded and do not have adequate physical facilities. These schools are usually charging high fees from the students. Most of the schools are unregistered; therefore, in most cases the certificates issued by these institutions are not recognized by public schools. Majority of these institutions are functioning in the rented buildings.
The National Education Policy 1998-2010 proposed that there shall be regulatory bodies at the national and provincial levels to regulate activities and smooth functioning of privately managed schools and institutions of higher education through proper rules and regulations. A reasonable tax rebate shall be granted on the expenditure incurred on the setting up of educational facilities by the private sector. Grants-in-Aid for specific purposes shall be provided to private institutions. Setting up of private technical institutions shall be encouraged. Matching grants shall be provided for establishing educational institutions by the private sector in the rural areas or poor urban areas through Education Foundation. In rural areas, schools shall be established through public-private partnership schemes. The government shall not only provide free land to build the school but also bear a reasonable proportion of the cost of construction and management. Liberal loan facilities shall be extended to private educational institutions by financial institutions.
Despite all shortcomings of private education mentioned above, PIHS survey indicates that enrolment rates in public schools have declined since 1995-96 particularly a large decline has been observed in rural areas. It is generally perceived by parents that quality of education in private schools are better than the public schools, therefore, those parents who can afford prefer to send their children to private schools. These trends indicate that the public education system is unable to meet public demand for providing quality education in the country.
Administrative and Supervisory Structure and Operation
According to the Constitution of Pakistan (1973), the Federal Government is entrusted the responsibility for policy, planning, and promotion of educational facilities in the federating units. This responsibility is in addition to the overall policymaking, coordinating and advisory authority; otherwise, education is the provincial subject. The Federal Ministry of Education administers the educational institutions located in the federal capital territory. Universities located in various provinces are administered by the provincial governments, but are exclusively funded by the federal government through the Higher Education Commission.
The Federal Ministry of Education is headed by the Minister of Education. The most senior civil servant in the Ministry is the Education Secretary assisted by Joint Secretary and Joint Educational Advisors of each wing. There are 6 wings in the Federal Ministry of Education and each wing is headed by Joint Educational Advisor
The provincial Education Departments are headed by their respective Provincial Education Ministers. The civil servant in charge of the department is the Provincial Education Secretary. The provinces are further divided into districts for the purpose of administration. The head of the Education Department in a district is Executive District Officer (EDO). Literacy Department functions separately in case of Punjab and Sindh only it is headed by Executive District Officer (EDO) literacy. In the Provinces of NWFP and Balochistan, literacy is the part of Education Department. The hierarchy then runs down to the District Education Officer, Sub-district Education Officer, Supervisors or Assistant Sub-district Education Officers .
At the grass root level (the union council level), Learning Coordinators (LCs) provide academic guidance as well as supervise the schools. The administrative structure has been decentralized under the Devolution Plan. Village Education Committees (VECs)/ School Management Committees (SMCs) have been set up in the provinces at grass root level.
Present Scenario of Education in Pakistan
The government of Pakistan recognized that education is the basic right of every citizen; therefore, access to education for every citizen is crucial for economic development and for poverty alleviation. The present government has given much importance to education sector it has not only emphasized raising the present literacy rate but also emphasized improving the quality of education. The over all estimated literacy rate was 50.5 percent, for male 63 percent and for female 38 percent during 2001-2002. Urban literacy rate was 70 percent and rural literacy rate is 30 percent during the same period. Pakistan net primary enrolment rate was 66 percent (male 82 percent, female 50 percent) and gross enrolment rate was 78 percent (male 91 percent, female 64 percent) during 2000-01. About 45 percent children who enrolled in grade-1 drop out before completing primary education cycle (male drop out 45 percent, female drop out 54 percent). There are about 4 million children of 5-9 age group who are left out of school. The left out includes those children who never enrolled and those who drop out.
Enrolment at primary level was 16.63 million during 2000-01. The gross enrolment at middle level was 34 percent, male 36 percent and female 33 percent in 2000-01. The gross enrolment at secondary level was 22 percent, 20 percent for female and 24 percent for male. The total number of Arts and Science colleges were 916 (male 536 and female 380) with the enrolment of 763,000 during 2000-01. There are 68 universities in Pakistan with the enrolment of 1.1 million. Out of the total universities, 40 universities are managed by public sector. There are 203,439 educational institutions in Pakistan of which 36,096 institutions are run private sector and the share of the private sector is about 18 percent.
The major issues and challenges of the education system include low literacy rate, high drop out rate, wide spread teacher absenteeism, weak management and supervision structure, shortage of trained and qualified teachers specially female, lack of teachers dedication, motivation and interest in their profession and lack of physical facilities. Moreover the curriculum is mostly outdated, irrelevant and does not fulfill the requirements of present day.
Education For All (EFA):
Education For All refers to the global commitment to ensure that by 2015 all children would complete primary education of good quality (Universal Primary Completion), and that gender disparity would be eliminated in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and no later than 2015. This commitment was made at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000 and reaffirmed in the Millennium declaration in New York in September 2000. The Government of Pakistan is attaching top priority to EFA. The country has ten year Perspective Development Plan (2001-11) to visualize the long term macro-economic and sectoral growth strategies, Poverty Reduction and Human Development is the priority area of the Plan. Sector-wide development approach covering all the sectors of education has been adopted under the Perspective Plan. In order to address the EFA implications linkage plan focusing on development of other sectors of Education has also been prepared.
Nearly 80% of the ESR covers different goals of Education for All by 2015, reducing illiteracy by 50 percent with a focus on reducing the gender gap by 2015, life skills and learning opportunities for youth and adults; and early childhood education. The targeted groups for EFA goals belong to disadvantaged communities with minimal opportunities. These groups are highly vulnerable, without access to learning facilities, or public sector facilities, which are functioning at sub-optimal levels.