By AR Sajid
Over eight education policies were announced since independence in Pakistan. Education plays important role in the development of any nation. An uneducated society cannot think on intellectual lines. Importance of education in modern times cannot be understated being the integral part of our lives. Education helps in evolution, improves one’s position in society, provides wide exposure, helps in decision making independently and maintaining healthy lifestyle. Those nations who recognized the importance of education are ruling the entire world. But unfortunately, developing nations like Pakistan are still striving due to neglecting the importance of education. Even seven decades have been elapsed of its independence; Pakistan is still far behind of the world in the field of education. Education policies were framed at various points of times to streamline the important field of education but unfortunately none of them was implemented in true letter and spirit. Just three months after creation of Pakistan, its founder Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah called for national education conference.
National Education Conference 1947: First National Education Conference was held at Karachi from November 27th to December 1st, 1947. Quaid-i-Azam was its convener. He provided basic guidelines for future educational development. He also emphasized people to realize the sense of honour, integrity and selfless services to the nation. At this occasion, Fazal-ur-Rehman, the Education Minister of the country proposed three dimensions of education, i.e. spiritual, social and vocational. A number of committees were also formed at this occasion such as Primary and Secondary Education Committee, Adult Education Committee, Technical Education Committee, Scientific Research Committee, University Education Committee, Women’s Education Committee and Cultural Relations Committee. The major recommendations of the conference were: i) Free and compulsory education in Pakistan ii) Education should be teamed with Islamic values and iii) Emphasis on science and technical education. Unfortunately, this policy could not be implemented properly due to various reasons including increased number of immigrants and other administrative problems of new born country and British colonial system was continued.
National Commission on Education 1959: The Commission was addressed by the President of Pakistan, General Mohammad Ayub Khan, on January 5, 1959. Commission made education compulsory upto 10 years of age. It made religious education also compulsory. Further commission also recommended equal expansion for boys and girls education. Major recommendations of the commission include character building, compulsory primary education focus on science and technical education, national language as medium of instruction, three-year degree program, elimination of illiteracy, establishment of university grants commission, combination of internal (25%) and external (75%) evaluation in examination system and introduction of religious education in three stages, i.e. 1) compulsory at middles level, 2) optional at secondary level and 3) research at university level. Recommendations of the National Education Commission were very useful but due to limited resources and conditions of country they were not applied in a better way.
New Education Policy 1970: The revised proposals were reviewed by the committee of the cabinet in the light of implications of the announcement by the President in his address to the nation on November 28, 1969. The new Education Policy was finally adopted by the Cabinet on March 26, 1970. Emphasis on ideological orientation, emphasis on science and technology education, decentralization of educational administration, eradication of illiteracy and formation of national education units were salient features of this educational policy. This policy was also not implemented mainly due to the war with India, separation of East Pakistan, and collapse of the military government.
Education Policy 1972: Zulifqar Bhutto announced a National Education Policy on 29 March 1972. Salient features of this policy include promotion of ideology of Pakistan, universal education, equality in education, personality development, curriculum based on socioeconomic needs of the society, integrated technical and science education, active participation of teacher, students and parents in educational affairs, nationalization of educational institutions, free & universal education up to Class X for both girls & boys (first phase October 1972, all public & private schools to provide free education up to class VIII, Second phase starting 1974, free education extended up to Class X). This policy was a good approach towards betterment, but has many drawbacks due to which it cannot be achieved thoroughly e.g. universal basic education, shift towards agro-technical studies etc. National Education Policy 1979: Minister for Education announced this policy in October 1978. The Draft work plan of the policy was presented to the Cabinet in December, 1978. The Policy was announced in February 1979. In 1979 National Educational Conference was held for reviewing the education system and developed following aims: i) Fostering loyalty to Islam, ii) Creation of concept of Muslim Ummah iii) Promotion of science and technical education and iv) Equal opportunities The following strategies were suggested to achieve the goals: 1.Curriculum revision, 2. Merging madrassa and traditional education, 3. Urdu as a medium of education, 4. Effective participation of community in literacy programs, 5. Linked scientific and technical education and 6. Separate set up for male and female. This policy was not implemented properly and failed due to lack of planning and financial resources.
National Education Policy 1992: A National Conference was held at Islamabad in April, 1991 under the chairmanship of the Federal Education Minister. In this Conference scholars, writers, newspaper editors, scientists, teachers and Lawyers proposals for preparing the Education Policy. The policy framework was discussed by the Education Minister with the Education Committees of the Senate and the National Assembly. The Policy was announced in December 1992. The major aspect, aims and goals of National Education Policy include Promotion of Islamic values through education, improvement in women education, range of general and technical education at secondary level, demand oriented curriculum, expended span of graduation and post graduation, use of AV aids promoting private sector to participate in enhancement of literacy. This policy could not be implemented due to change in political scenario of country.
National Education Policy 1998-2010: The Prime Minister advised the Ministry of Education to design a new Education Policy in January 1998. The first revised draft was submitted to the Cabinet on 18 February, 1998. The Policy was announced in March 1998. Major objectives of National Education Policy include making the Quranic principles and Islamic practices an integral part of education system, to achieve universal primary education, to meet the basic educational needs of every individual, to expand the basic education, to ensure equal opportunity of higher education, laid emphasis on diversification, to make curriculum development a continuous process, to introduce in-service training programs for betterment of education. Suggestions for achievement of above goals were: i) Introduction of idea of multiple text book, ii). Diversification of curriculum, iii) Development of National Testing Services, iv) Expansion and emphasis on technical and science education, v) Upgrading the quality of Deeni Madaras, vi) Teacher training programs both pre and in service and vii) Introduction of comprehensive monitoring system.
Education Sector Reforms 2005-2010: This originated from the policy of 1998-2010 and focuses on development of human resources. The existing Education Policy was announced in 2009. The major thrust areas of ESR include free and universal primary education, free text books, equal access to opportunities of learning and improving all aspects in quality education, introduction of new educational curricula, development of training learning resources and materials, offering incentives for private sector, introduction of computer course at all levels, strengthening of research in higher education and grant for affiliation of madrasas, allocation for education would be 7% of the national GDP by 2015, literacy rate will be enhanced to 86% by 2015, a Bachelor degree, with a B.Ed, shall be the minimum requirement for teaching at the elementary level and masters degree for the secondary and higher secondary with a B.Ed, shall be ensured by 2018.
Ultimate Objectives of Pakistani Education policies is advancing literacy rate upto 80% in 2018 from 57% in 2009 which seems to be impossible under present scenario. For attaining higher literacy rates, government should prioritize education. Govt. should work on war footing basis to combat illiteracy in the country.
(The writer is a PhD Mass Communication Scholar and he can be reached at: email@example.com)