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KARACHI: Educationists on Wednesday supported the idea of establishing a School Education Commission (SEC) on the pattern of the Higher Education Commission in Sindh to bring basic reforms in the “ailing” education system of the province.

They said numerous issues relating to governance and administration had inflicted the education system because of split in various tiers and inconsistency that the provincial education department was going through.

At a programme organised by the Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU) at its Senate Hall to discuss the viability of the proposal for the commission, the audience was informed that SMIU’s four-member committee headed by varsity’s vice chancellor Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh and comprising Dr Stephen John, Dr Muneer Moosa Sadruddin and Dr Rakhshanda Kokab had developed the said idea.

Educationists have supported creation of SEC; about 52pc children in Sindh are out of school

They had suggested the Sindh government to form the commission on the pattern of the HEC that would take care of school education from pre-primary to intermediate level with the support of seven wings.

The commission, as per the proposal, would be headed by a chairman for a specified tenure.

Briefing academicians on ‘Reforming education, rethinking governance’, SMIU VC Dr Shaikh said the main task of the SEC would be improving education in Sindh from pre-primary to intermediate level.

He said all examination boards, Sindh Textbook Board, curriculum development bureaus and other relevant bodies should also work under it. Mr Shaikh said at present the affairs of education in Sindh were being looked after by three separate provincial departments and each department had its own secretary.

“The [departments of] school education, college education, universities and boards are being looked after by three secretaries and are assisted by other officers of general cadre,” he said, adding that due to frequent transfers of officers, they failed to acquire in-depth knowledge of education sector and deliver.

He said the fragmented structure and inconsistency in the education department, curriculum development, textbook publication, examination boards, teachers’ appointments, their training etc, were being carried out by numerous bodies with little cohesion and coordination.

Dr Shaikh said the proposed commission would establish its seven wings for curriculum development and textbook publication; examination and evaluation; infrastructural and physical facilities; enrolment enhancement; and monitoring and evaluation (it would be responsible for ranking schools in star system); selection, capacity building and training; and private, non-formal and madressah education.

Proposal to give schools’ management to LGs

He also proposed that the management of schools could be entrusted to local governments at the grassroots level.

For this, schools from Class I to VIII should be given under the administrative control of union councils and from class IX to XII be given under district councils; while the commission would function as facilitator in vital areas of education including monitoring and evaluation of institutions.

He claimed the new management system would benefit all students, particularly those belonging to poor families as about 52 per cent children in Sindh were out of school, tangibly higher than Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Dr Shaikh said it was time to bring basic changes in the education system without further delay.

He said that it was the third consultative session being held on the proposal of SEC. Earlier, two sessions had been held with Sindh Education Minister Sardar Shah and other officials of education department and media representatives.

A good number of educationists including Qamar Siddiqui, Dr Farida Lodhi, Dr Syed Abdul Aziz, Dr Farhat Khanum, Dr Kamal Hyder, Dr Safia Urooj and Dr Anjum Kazmi attended the session.

They shared their views and in general supported reforms in the education system as suggested in the discussion.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018