Rana Mashood
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News Desk |

A sigh of relief came for the students and parents alike when Rana Mashood, Minister for Education Punjab, in a press conference on Monday, announced the restoration of old curriculum.

While talking to Media, Mashood dispelled the impression that changes were made in the curriculum of class 1 to 10, which were against Islam, Pakistan, and the Army. He informed that in the new curriculum, the old topics have been rearranged to avoid repetition along side adding some new topics to the curriculum.

The formal proclamation was made by the Minister after the controversy stirred confusion among the parents, who showed their utmost disapproval on the news of the reported new changes that were made to the curriculum.

To many scholars, intellectuals and parents, the omission of topics pertaining to religious and national figures were unacceptable since it shook the religious and national beliefs.

Mr. Mashood iterated that investigations are underway to determine who excluded the religious and historical content from the courses and strong action will be taken against those responsible.

Controversy: A scam or reality

Great caution is required before withering off the controversy as a mere scam to defame the Punjab Government. Strong evidence is available which suggests that changes in the curriculum were made at the behest of certain government officials.

Resistance by public made the matter to be addressed hastily by the authorities. This also brings to the forefront the inability of the provincial governments to look after education sector which came under their ambit after the 18th Amendment.

With the 18Th amendment in promulgation, there has been removed any top eye as a watchdog to monitor the activities and the decisions of the Provincial governments.

Education which is perhaps the binding tool to knit the varying ethnicities and minorities into a national fabric, the contrasting ideologies, on the other hand, may taint this national spirit entailed at the time when the country is already grappling with the internal and external threats to security.

After media, education is perhaps the most effective tool to disseminate the messages of cohesion and unity to the public.

The viability of 18th amendment

Where education needs to be of prime importance, Punjab has only been focusing on Lahore, while Provincial Government of Balochistan has withdrawn its decision to release Rs 1bn for school’s infrastructural enhancement. Meanwhile, reports reveal that almost 300000 children in Sindh are deprived of their educational rights.

The educational sector in Sindh also narrates the dismal education performances, where according to one observer despite being allocated a total of Rs 202 billion for the revitalization of education sector overall. The second Sindh Education Sector Reform Project (SERP-II), a five-year plan with a total budget of $400 million, projected to capitalize two main targets: increase school participation at the primary, middle and secondary levels, and improve students’ learning outcomes. Specific targets included an increase in net enrolment at the primary level (six-10 years) from 61.6 per cent to 67pc, at the middle level (11-13 years) from 35.7pc to 40pc, and at matriculation (14-15 years) from 23.1pc to 26pc.

Despite 24% percent of budget allocation to education sector this year, the provincial government in Balochistan due to inept policies and poor management has failed to properly utilize Rs1000 million fund allocated under Chief Minister’s Programme for drinkable and toilet facilities in schools.

The government of Punjab has allocated Rs345 billion for education in the 2017-18 budget, which is 17.51 per cent of the total allocation. In comparison, Punjab has increased the total education budget by 10.29 per cent (Rs32.2 billion) from fiscal year 2016-17.

Meanwhile, literacy figures in other parts of Punjab are dismal since the provincial government has diverted the greater chunk of investment to Lahore region. Despite all tall claims, the Faisalabad division including the cities of Jhang, Chiniot, Tobe Tek Singh and Faisalabad remain deprived of their non-salary budget.

The provincial governments have failed to bring revolutionary changes in the educational sector after the promulgation of the 18th Amendment. If this continues, a major chunk of our future generation will be deprived of education which is their fundamental right.

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