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KARACHI, Jan 27: With the education sector set to shortly become a provincial subject, the government is planning to set up a Sindh Education Development Authority to regulate educational institutions across the province, said Sindh Senior Minister for Education Pir Mazharul Haq on Thursday.

A draft bill in this regard had been submitted to the chief minister and would be tabled in the provincial assembly soon, he added while speaking at the launch of an assessment report on the current status of education in the province held at the Institute of Business Administration’s city campus with the collaboration of South Asian Forum for Education Development (SAFED) and Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi.

Prepared by a non-government organisation, the report titled “Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Pakistan (Rural) – 2010” in particular reference to Sindh was discussed by a panel of speakers comprising Sindh Education Foundation Managing Director Prof Anita Ghulam Ali, Sindh Education Secretary Naheed Durrani, and Adviser to the Chief Minister for Planning and Development Dr Kaiser Bengali.

Speaking of the proposed education development authority, the senior minister said that the authority would be an apex regulatory body having two wings – an advisory body comprising senior educationists and an enforcement body that would be responsible for implementing the decisions of the former.

He deplored that the education sector in the province remained neglected in the past and said it was amazing to note that neither there existed a proper mechanism for monitoring the performance of teachers and those managing the affairs of government educational institutions nor a regulatory body to oversee the functioning of both government and private educational institutions. Besides, he added, there lacked a complete documentation through which the performance of those associated with the education sector could be assessed.

Referring to a World Bank study that states between 67 and 70 per cent children are out of school in certain parts of 10 districts of the province, the minister said in the wake of this study the education department planned to establish 1,000 schools with the collaboration of the private sector.

Reforms Laying emphasis on bringing reforms in the education sector, he said that the provincial education department had already initiated exercises to update curriculum and syllabus and improve the quality of textbooks as the education sector would soon become a provincial subject.

Besides, the education department had started a number of initiatives aimed at bringing education reforms such as the recruitment of over 14,000 teachers strictly under the school-specific policy and on a merit basis by conducting their tests through a third party; and the introduction of management reforms that had already been approved by chief minister to curb the culture of getting transferred and posted on ‘sifarish’, the minister said.

New degree As a part of its pre-teacher training programme, the education department introduced a new associate degree and those qualifying the degree would be directly inducted as a teacher in grade 16, Pir Mazhar said. He added that those among the grade 16 teachers who would pass BEd examination would be promoted in grade 17 under this initiative.

He elaborated that the bureau of curriculum had already approved the curriculum of the newly-introduced associate degree and training under this programme was initially being imparted at two teachers’ institutions situated in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Highlighting the measures taken by the education ministry to discourage the rising trend of dropouts among girls beyond primary classes, he said that the amount of stipend being given to girls studying in secondary classes had been raised from Rs1,000 to Rs2,400 and to Rs3,000 in less developed areas of the province.

The minister said that free of cost textbooks were being provided to millions of children studying in government schools and colleges across the province.