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Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians and those Sabaeans, whoso believes in God and the last day, and works righteousness, their wage awaits them with their lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. Quran 2:62.

Five ways to improve the structure of Pakistan's education system

By YesPakistan.com Staff Writer

Universal primary education in Pakistan is contingent on several factors, such as the existence of cost-effective schools, better curricula, and an awareness among parents, especially in rural areas, of the importance of education. However, the single most important factor in getting children to complete primary school is improving the structure of Pakistan's school system.

Currently, there exist many obstacles on the road to a smoothly functioning system. These include political interference, corruption, over-centralization, a lack of school autonomy, underdeveloped managerial capacity and poor information systems.

However, there are five institutional reforms that can help improve Pakistan's educational structure so that it can achieve the goal of universal primary education.

The first reform is the decentralization of decision-making, which improves education administration. Presently, Pakistan educational system is highly centralized even though it is widely understood that basic education is better provided in a system that is administered at the district and village level.

A highly centralized system does not respond as effectively to local needs. The bureaucracy interferes with the flow of resources and information. It also means higher level administrators have less time to devote to important issues like program design, implementation, and monitoring.

This decentralization means governments must develop partnerships with communities, NGOs, and the private sector to delegate responsibility effectively in order to achieve universal primary education.

A second step necessary for improving the system is greater autonomy for the schools. Currently, school principals have a limited decision-making capacity. In addition, schools do not have control over issues like curriculum, teacher appointment, discipline, and evaluation. There are virtually no opportunities for local staff development programs or resource mobilization.

By giving schools more independence, principals would have the authority to appoint personnel and determine crucial issues that affect the day-to-day affairs of schools. Principals, not upper-level bureaucrats, are in a better position to make these decisions since they deal with the daily realities of school life.

A third important reform is providing better support to, supervision of, and coordination of the school system at the district and provincial level. By making the district the key level for planning and management, state-level and central education bodies can focus more on policy-making, resource management and regulation.

One way to do this is by promoting good principals and teachers at the school level to enhance the institutional capacity of district level organizations. The lack of sufficient manpower is the most serious problem at the district and sub-district level.

A fourth necessary reform is to encourage decision-making be based on educational, not political, considerations. At present, politicians hand out teaching jobs as patronage appointments. Federal and provincial funds provided for education sometimes remain unused, especially in rural areas, since feudal landowners are opposed to educating "their" people.

The final necessary reform is to expand the information and research base of education in Pakistan. Effective management and administration of the education system depends on the quality of the information system. Without reliable information, decision-makers cannot improve education policy and programs at the national, district and school levels.

One way of collecting reliable information about the state of education is to conduct standardized testing that measures student performance against national curriculum goals. These can be used to compare learning achievement across schools, districts and regions over time.

There is also a need for better research. Pakistan currently has one institution that conducts research on educational issues, the Academy of Educational Planning and Management, which conducts research on basic education. However, its abilities are hampered by inadequate funds, no institutionalized basis for collecting, processing and analyzing data, no technical support staff and little influence in policy making.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:44:33 PM

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