KARACHI: “Just making a school and appointing teachers does not solve matters. That is only the first step,” said Sindh’s secretary for school education and literacy department Qazi Shahid Pervaiz at the Sindh launch of the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) — 2018 organised by the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) at a hotel here on Tuesday.

“Even if I try, I cannot know what is going on in each and every school. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I just need help in being informed about what is wrong where. Parents too should monitor their children’s progress in schools. They should not be happy with just sending them to schools,” he said.

“I believe in the potential of communities. They can do so much more than what we give them credit for. The issue of out-of-school children is a huge one for which communities need to be mobilised,” he said.

Annual Status of Education Report — 2018 launched

Meanwhile, about the report ITA’s CEO Baela Raza Jamil said when collecting data for the report they don’t just look for school-level data, they also collect information from homes as it provides them with a head count of those who are out of school. “This way for the 2018 report we collected data from 600 homes in 30 villages. And gathering this data over a time shows us trends. There are indicators which tell us what is happening in education in Pakistan,” she said.

Earlier, ITA’s programme manager for Sindh Mumtaz Pirzada said the annual report is made especially for policymakers. “The report helps in giving directions for policymaking as it carries statistics, information about learning levels, comparisons between public and private schools besides other information. We are proud of the fact that the Aser report is also quoted by the Pakistan Economic Survey,” he said.

Dean and director of the Institute of Business Administration Dr Farrukh Iqbal shared a fact that he noticed in the report about there being fewer children attending private schools in Sindh while in the other provinces the situation was quite different. “Perhaps the per-child cost of education being higher in government schools than private, a point not very well known, is the reason for this,” he said.

Executive director of the Sindh Teachers Education Development Authority Abdul Majeed Bhurt said that the policymakers and stakeholders had yet to learn how to use data and benefit from it. “It is something which we can use to move forward,” he said.

Asghar Memon from the Bureau of Curriculum said that there was far more than just textbooks to look to when it came to the standards of education. “We are so focused on the quality of courses and textbooks, what about the quality of teachers?” he said.

Ameena Saiyid of the Adab Festival said that it was important to study different region models and collaborate to see what they were doing right. “There are 22 million children not going to school and those who are [are] not always learning,” she said. “Yes, textbooks are good, but there should also be libraries as not everyone can buy new books, and supplementary reading is very important. We need to stop rote learning and focus on critical thinking.”

Najeeb Haroon of the PTI, Mapara of the Sindh Education Foundation and CEO of HANDS Dr Tanvir Ahmed also spoke.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2019

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