“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”
These awe-inspiring words from the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, precisely sums up the significance of a robust education system essential to a nation’s progress. On a macro level, if we probe one major factor which makes distinction between developed and developing nations; it must be the literacy rate.
From Pakistan’s perspective, it is extremely disheartening that education was never a priority for any regime, which undoubtedly proved disastrous to the country’s overall progress and prosperity. However, one must admit that the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, especially at Punjab level, has taken instrumental steps to strengthen the existing education system, and this time the focal point are not just the students but the teachers as well.
The Punjab’s School Education Department (SED), in particular, has performed outstandingly well through amazing interventions, with focus being facilitating the teachers across the province.
The launch of E-Transfer system is an apt example of it, that is Pakistan’s 1st ever e-transfer system of any kind in public sector. 207,151 teachers have logged on to the system to date, and total 96,000 transfer preferences have been submitted by the teachers. Resultantly, more than 20,000 teachers got transferred in three phases respectively, which has helped in the eradication of Rs. 2-3 Billion corruption. Predominantly for the teachers, 25 leaves are now being allowed, and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of teachers at respective districts is indeed a brilliant initiative too.
Then, the Punjab SED has achieved a tremendous feat by developing Pakistan’s largest paperless Human Resource Management System (HRMS), under which 96% teachers’profiles have been completed, and 374,216 profiles have been uploaded online as well.
It is this remarkable HRMS that is now proving fruitful in quick resolution of teachers’ issues. Apart from this, the newly introduced performance indicators for teachers will now draw efficient performance out of them, and promotions will be made entirely on merit.Then, a rational approach is now being appointed in student teacher ratio, which will eventually help in successful work management.
Parallel to it, the Punjab School Education Policy and The New Deal focuses on three thematic areas, which are Learning, Access & Retention and Governance.
The revamping of the curriculum framework and alignment of Textbooks in accordance to the Education Strategy(The New Deal 2018-2023) is in swift progression phase. What is highly commendable is the implementation of Urdu as Medium of Instruction (MOI) by the next Academic Year (March 2020) at Primary Schools. Urdu as MOI would surely increase the literacy rate,though English will be taught as a language subject.
Then, from developmental viewpoint, the’Clean Green Pakistan’ drive in Public Schools of Punjab is another great step that is about safeguarding 10 trees per school and 3 saplings per teacher. Also, the launch of ‘WASH’program with UNICEF across the 36 districts of Punjab, aims to apprise students about personal hygiene, and with School Health and Nutrition Program, 1700 health rooms in 27,000 schools across Punjab will be created for student’s effective screening. Already, 250 water filtration plants have been installed in schools for safe and clean water.
Moreover, through Punjab School Construction and Rehabilitation Program, 100 model schools are being set up in 11 districts, while 2500 new classrooms with 1000 Science and Computer Labs, along with 400 Libraries are being established in primary schools of 12 districts. Besides these, solarization of 10,800 schools in Southern Punjab is almost done, which includes districts and areas of Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Thal and Cholistan.In addition to all these, aimed to address drop-out ratio post primary level, is the Insaf Afternoon School Programme (IASP), through which 549 schools have been launched with 18,000 students enrolled successfully.
Furthermore, is the Sports Strategy, by which 2 sports lessons weekly will take place at all class levels and devising of Annual Sports calendar is also part of it.
On private school front, SED has ensured the implementation of the Lahore High Court’s verdict on 20% reduction of fees in Private Schools, and it has facilitated the parents immensely by restricting the Private School Sector from collecting the 3 months fee altogether at the start of summer vacations.
Overall, if we make a general analysis of all these initiatives, one thing is really appreciable that the government is highly focused in improvement of the education sector, and this deserves huge round of applause. Especially, the importance they have attached to a teacher’s contribution through these reforms, is where this government has made a phenomenal accomplishment. As a nation, we all must understand that if we want to step up among the ranks of the developed nations, education is the asset that holds the key. Along with it, teachers are the ones the esteem of whom matters the most, and this is where the progressive nations are far ahead from us. Every successful individual must simply remember one thing whatever today they are, it is because of the blessings and sincere guidance of their teachers, and now it is time that all of us must collectively stand up for them.
In the end, it is not just the resultant efficiency of these steps that counts, it is more about the overarching vision and profound approach towards its fulfillment which stand out.