‘Education is a state responsibility’ | Pakistan Today

‘Education is a state responsibility’

LAHORE – PINA and AFAQ, an organisation that produces children’s encyclopedia and arranges teachers’ training in Pakistan, jointly organized a seminar on the “Role of Curriculum in Nation Building” on Friday. The speakers of the seminar said that education was a strategic imperative for Pakistan and it should be the main focus of every government. They said the national curriculum is the backbone of the educational system and it should be developed under the supervision of the federation to ensure national cohesion and a global approach. They said that the elementary and secondary education must be given priority in order to produce quality components for higher educational institutions and develop a root-based leadership.
Eminent educationist Prof Dr Rafique Ahmad, in his presidential address, expressed concern that designing the national curriculum was a highly delicate and sensitive responsibility which if transferred to the provinces would be overshadowed by parochial prejudices and might damage national unity. He proposed that a National Education Commission be established at the center to address the high imperatives of educating the nation. He emphasized the need to spend at least 5 to 7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education which could be managed by curtailing the expenditure on administration’s VIP culture. He said that the national survival depended on pursuing just and exploitation-free society.
PINA Secretary General Altaf Hasan Qureshi recalled the All Pakistan Education Conference presided by Muhammad Ali Jinnah in December 1947 where it was cautioned that education would be critical to Pakistan’s viability as a state. Qureshi said that the 18th Amendment transferred the federal subject of education to provinces without considering its implications. He said that the pros and cons of the change could be discussed in the seminar where appropriate measures could be recommended.
University of Management & Technology (UMT) Rector and AFAQ Chairman Dr Suhaib Hasan Murad said that in an emerging global world the curriculum had assumed special significance since it had to cater for the needs of the emotionally, intellectually and technologically developed man as well as the national aspirations. He said this task should be entrusted to the federal government which had the potential and capacity to develop curricula at national level.
Punjab Education Foundation Chairman Raja Muhammad Anwar said it was the state’s responsibility to provide education, justice and basic necessities to every citizen. He disclosed that thousands of primary and secondary schools were in bad shape and added that at least 200 billion rupees were needed for their maintenance and expansion. He said that according to a recent survey, only in Khanewal District 275,000 children did not go to schools and there was a 35 percent dropout after grade 80. He was of the view that provinces would be able to accommodate the local cultures and traditions in the curriculum. However, he suggested that a high-powered coordinated committee be set up to oversee the whole process. Anwar emphasized the need to teach geography and history to Pakistani students.
He said these subjects equipped the students with historical insight and vision of strategic location. He said that the Punjab Government was spending more than Rs 130 billion on education out of its total budget of Rs 450 billion and introduced examinations at primary and secondary level to bring uniformity in the education standard. Punjab University Institute of Education Research Director Dr Mumtaz Akhtar said national integration was the need of the hour and it could be promoted through a unified system of education. She stressed giving teachers the pivotal role of character building and personality development. She suggested that think tanks be established to provide intellectual input in curriculum development.

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