Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf promised to introduce a uniform system of education in the province if voted to power by the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Source: (PTI Manifesto)
Speaking to Truth Tracker, the Provincial Minister for education, Atif Khan, said the PTI-led coalition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already initiated work on a uniform education system in the province.
“Five Working groups in this regard are formed to ensure the implementations of an action plan in KP educational institutions soon,” Atif Khan told Truth Tracker. He said these working groups would work out on governance, curriculum design, teacher’s training, and the coordination between governmental- and privately-run institutes to bring harmony to both the public and private schools in the province.
“We will definitely modernize the syllabus in the province,” says Atif. “We will introduce a modern and up-to-date syllabus in the province and both the government and private institutions will follow it strictly. We are trying to develop uniformity in education so that the class differences in the society can be eradicated in the province.” He added that the PTI government was not sparing the religious seminaries. “The party – with the help of coalition partners – wants to support the religious seminaries in the province on both a financial and technical basis and will support them equipping their students with modern education along with religious courses [….] so that they do not just produce the prayer leaders but good citizens for the state.”
Like the rest of Pakistan, different systems of education are also an issue in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Due to the declining quality of public education, the majority of people rely on private schools. The popular perception is that the public-sector schools do not provide quality education. A majority of the population living below the poverty line cannot afford private schools where the tuition fees are high. PTI wants to provide equal education opportunities to masses, irrespective of social-economic status.
After the May 11 elections, the PTI formed the provincial government in the KP in coalition with other parties. The PTI leader Pervaz Kahttak was elected as the Chief Minister.
On June 17, 2013 the provincial budget of Khyber Pakthunkhwa for the fiscal year 2013-2014 was presented in the Assembly. Truth Tracker has confirmed the exact amount of funding being allocated for education in the province – a sum of 66 billion rupees – has been allocated for education which is 33 percent higher than the previous provincial budget for education.
To introduce a uniform education system in the province, some administrative steps are being taken to keep the promise, and the people of KP will surely see promising changes before the next academic year gets started in March 2014.
This promise is underway and the government has taken some steps in this regard. “PTI is trying its best and exploring resources to fulfill this pledge as soon as possible” said Atif Khan, Provincial Minister for Education.
Atif Khan assured Truth Tracker that uniform curricula will be designed and followed by the government and private schools to eradicate the class-based education system. To formulate a uniform curricula, he said a commission of experts was being formed to confront the task head on. The experts’ selection process is underway and soon they will be working to accomplish the assigned task. Khan told Truth Tracker that a major amount of the education budget will be spent on establishing new schools, as well as to upgrading the existing schools in the province. Atif furthur said around 3 millions children were not enrolled in school and that the government was planing to build schools and get them educated. “To promote female education in the backward [sic] districts, including District Toor Ghar, Tank, Shangla, Kohistan and Batgaram etc, of KP we will grant 1,500 PKR per month to each female student at the primary and secondary levels,” said Atif.
Jawad Khan, a faculty member at Swat University said, “It is almost impossible to bring uniformity to the education system.”
Elaborating further, Jawad stated that people enroll their children in private schools because of their advanced and up-to-date curricula and better teaching methodology. He said it seemed improbable that the PTI government would formulate a standardized curriculum because they would have to work from scratch.
Another educationist at Malakand University, Naveed Jamal, told Truth Tracker by telephone, “PTI had been voted by people for promising to fix problems related to education, health and corruption. The previous government failed to keep its promises in these areas. In this context, it might not be easy for PTI government to tackle these issues easily either.”
He said that there were different classes in Pakistani society. “Being a university teacher, I (Naveed Jamal) notice that the students coming from private institutions are not even willing to talk with those students who have studied at government schools,” he told TT.
The promise of a uniform education system is not a simple one, but the PTI leadership appears to be serious about it at the moment. And, some steps like allocations for funds and the constitution of committees suggest that fulfillment is underway.