ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood on Monday said a uniform education system was the sole panacea to end the gulf between different classes of the society in the country.
Speaking at a joint press conference after chairing the 11th meeting of Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC), he said that the incumbent government gave high priority to the education sector and every effort would be made to provide an equitable playing field to all children of the country.
He said that the federal government and all federating units were on the same page regarding issues pertaining to education which was a good omen because they were facing almost similar problems and hoped to bring considerable improvements in the long-neglected sector within a short span of time through collective efforts.
“Enrolment of almost 2.5 million out-of-school children is our prime concern,” he said, adding that a majority of the children left their studies midway due to the absence of middle schools in their areas or their parents forced them to work and support their families.
He vowed to resolve the issue and said Islamabad should be made an example in this regard.
“A programme would be launched for the enrolment of around 30,000 out-of-school children in the federal capital, which would later be replicated elsewhere in the country,” he said and added that the target was to enrol at least a million children across the country within the first year.
The minister said that various education systems existed in the country, such as the government, the elite schools system and madrassas. “A majority of the students who clear competitive exams have graduated from the elite school system while even PhD degree holders of government schools are struggling to get reasonable jobs.”
In this regard, he said, the establishment of “National Curriculum Council” was decided in a bid to identify core subjects for all students besides determining the language of instruction.
Shafqat said all stakeholders would be engaged in order to create a broad consensus, adding that it would be made sure that five to six same subjects were taught everywhere in the country.
On shortage of teachers, the minister announced that the “Taleem Razakar” programme will be started where graduates would be encouraged to teach students voluntarily and technology would be used to deal with the capacity issue of teachers as well.
“Evening shifts in schools will be started besides consolidation of primary middle and high schools to address the shortage of teachers,” he added.
The minister said that skills development will be given top priority because Pakistan’s future lied in providing marketable skills to the youth and enable them to earn a respectable livelihood.
He said that the government would introduce such systems that would not only improve the quality of education but also enhance the standards and provision of skills, adding that the target of the present government was that all the youngsters who enter the job market are equipped with marketable skills.
To a question, he said that the current education budget is 2.2% of the GDP, which is not sufficient.