Secretary Schools says his performance monitoring scheme implemented
By Hafiz Abdul Aleem
Punjab Education Department Secretary Schools Abdul Jabbar Shaheen said that Punjab government was making all out efforts to enroll out-of-school children. “My proposal regarding a scheme of school education check and balance was approved by a high-powered committeeunanimously. Under this scheme all headmasters have to submit a report on weekly basis. They are bound to attend the weekly meetings held by EDOs and all the institutions are visited by our special inspection teams to check the system of the institutions.”He was talking to The Educationistduring an interviewwith following details:
The Educationist: Please do tell us about you early life and education.
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: I belong to Khushab. After my graduation, I joined Civil Service of Pakistan. I have worked as District Coordinator Officer in Kasur and Okara. I also worked as Director General LDA Lahore, then I joined education sector in 2013. Now I’m Secretary of School Education Department Punjab.
The Educationist: What kind of works do you authorize?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: I supervise few departments like DPI’s, Examinations, Textbook Board, and Punjab Education Foundation etc.
The Educationist: What are key objectives of your department?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: Our main objective is to promote education in every corner of the province. We use various tools for it. We train teachers, maintain standards in education, provide textbooks, to conduct examinations and to provide healthy environment in schools.
The Educationist: What about education budget?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: The Punjab government had allocated Rs 44.3 billion for education sector in the provincial budget for 2014-15 fiscal, which is Rs 4.3 billion (approximately 10 percent) more than the allocations made for the 2013-14 fiscal. The government has allocated Rs 20 billion for school education against ongoing year’s Rs 15 billion. This years allocation has been increased further.
The Educationist: 25 million children are out of school. Tell us about school enrollment campaign in Punjab.
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: We launched a campaign in March 2014 for new admissions. Schools were given task to enroll students out of school. A large number of students admitted to schools. For example, schools in Rawalpindi only, admitted more than 100,000 children comprising a large number of out of school children.Similar tasks were accomplished by all institutions and we properly checked this also.
The Educationist: MDG-2 demands 88pc literacy rate in Pakistan by the end of 2015, what is your strategy to achieve the target?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: We know it’s not enough. A lot of work will have to do in this sector. But we are committed to meet the goal. Education minister also discussed in a meeting that we are determined to get 88 per cent literacy by 2015. We are hopeful for that.
The Educationist: Co-Curricular and Extra-Curricular activities are necessary for healthy growth and confidence of students. What steps are being taken in this regards?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: We are trying our best. We conducted workshops for students, provided them IT labs and we also conducted different competitions on district and provincial levels, the students were given reasonable awards. In the result of these practices, we observed talent in various fields like Qirat, Naat, Speeches, Calligraphy, and Sports etc.
The Educationist: what you think about our system as compared to internationalstandards?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: We have to look our backgrounds, we are better than past few years. Aren’t we? We increased the number of schoolgoing children, we enhanced transparency in examinations, we upgraded syllabus, and we trained teachers. All possible things we are doing. It would take some time to bring it at a par with international standard.
The Educationist: But Sir the problem is that our progress speed is not sufficient. We have the examples of Malaysia, Sri Lanka, how they promote education but we are far behind. Our system has failed to compete with O-Level and A-Level studies. Why?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: I agree, but there is a difference among Pakistan and other countries you quoted. The difference is that they have strong political system. We were facing changing govts issues. Every new government changed last government policies. This trend lead to the disaster of all sectors of the country. This practice does not compete with international standards in education as well.
The Educationist: Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) said in February 2013 that Govt. failed to control the out of school children. Even then Governor Punjab admitted, 7m children are out of schools in Punjab. What would you say about this?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: As we discussed earlier, we are focusing on this issue properly, we admitted thousands of out of school children back to the schools. Parents in villages did not send their children to schools, but we asked the government to formulate a law against this and we won the case.
The Educationist: What is the law? Kindly elaborate.
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: It is called Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2014 and according to this bill, not sending the children to school is a crime. But here is a lot of work will have to inform people about this bill so that they send their children to school rather than to work.
The Educationist: Are you following the merit system for teachers’enrollment?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: We introduced NTS Test for the hiring of teachers. The candidates’eligibility is also properly determinedon merit. The NTS channel also promotes transparency in the system.
The Educationist: Which innovations have you introduced being Secretary Schools?
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen: I personally put the scheme of check and balance before the committee and they all agreed upon this. The scheme is that we have told the headmasters to submit a report on weekly basis on the institution. They are bound to attend the weekly meetings held by EDOs and all the institutions are visited by our special inspection teams to check the system of the institutions.