KARACHI: After the posts of secretary and special secretary education and literacy, the school education and literacy department of the government of Sindh will now create a new post of ‘secretary primary education’.

This was said by Minister for Education and Literacy, Sindh, Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar during his speech at a provincial consultation on the National Education Policy 2017 held by the Reform Support Unit with the support of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund here on Thursday.

Congratulating the ministry of federal education and professional training, government of Pakistan, on reaching the landmark of developing NEP 2017, the education minister said it was the right time for both the federal and provincial governments to revisit their policies, plans and strategies to provide children with equitable access to education ensuring quality at all levels.

“Pakistan has accorded the highest priority to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. For this purpose, the education and literacy department, government of Sindh, was the first among all provinces to conduct consultation on SDG-4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, which resulted in the Provincial SDG-4 strategy, which is being finalised by the department,” he said.

‘Too many mistakes found in locally published textbooks’

“The government of Sindh is committed to fulfilling its legal obligation to provide free and compulsory education to children from five to 16 years of age based on Article 25-A [of the Constitution]. For this purpose, the government of Sindh has already developed a five-year Sindh Education Sector Plan (SESP 2014-18) through a consultative process by involving all stakeholders,” he said, adding that as per the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the education and literacy department had already started development of Sindh Education Policy. About NEP 2017, he said the education and literacy department and relevant stakeholders would review it which would help them in adapting the national priorities of the policy in Sindh’s context.

He said that the education and literacy department had already overcome challenges in the education sector through policy reforms such as monitoring and evaluation, biometrics of teaching and non-teaching [staff], recruitment of 1,039 headmasters/headmistresses through third party, the girls’ stipend incentive programme, the developing of the Human Resource Management Information System, the ECCE policy, the SDG strategy, the non-formal education policy, recruitment policy of teaching and non-teaching staff, etc.

He also said there was a need for a secretary for primary schools here. About the contract for publishing some 30 million textbooks awarded to international publishers by the Sindh Textbook Board, he added that it was because of too many mistakes found in the books that were published locally.

The minister also said that besides concentrating on primary education, the provincial government also had its eye on college education which had seen the setting up of some 31 new colleges of which 10 had already been inaugurated.

He hoped for a thorough review and discussion on the NEP 2017 to ensure that the education policies here were child-centred, gender-responsive and based on equity.

Earlier, while providing an overview of the work on NEP 2017, Joint Educational Adviser Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Mohammad Rafique Tahir also suggested that a national curriculum council be established. He said they already had designed new curricula for classes one to five for schools in Islamabad, KP and Fata, which would be implemented in 2018.

He said that BA and BS degrees should be made mandatory for all teachers.

He also suggested that at least 25 per cent of provincial budgets should be reserved for education and educational projects.

Madressah education

Coming to madressah education, he suggested that all such institutions providing religious instruction with general education be registered with the education departments of their respective provinces and come under the secondary and higher secondary boards.

Later, educationists and other stakeholders present on the occasion formed groups to review different chapters of the education policy. There were some seven groups in all. The first one discussed the goals objectives and key areas of the policy. The second group looked into the part about early childhood care and education, primary education and private-sector education.

The third group focussed on secondary education, higher education, physical education, sports, counselling, character building, boy scouts and girl guides while the fourth one evaluated the portion on technical, vocational education and training with non-formal basic education.

The fifth group was assigned to examine the chapter on Islamic education and madressahs in the policy but soon after sitting down to review this, the group members all left without presenting their suggestions.

The sixth group studied the chapter about information technology, special education and inclusive education, library and documentation services as the seventh group concentrated on teachers’ education, assessment and examination systems.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2017