Amid an âeducation emergencyâ as nearly 25 million children remain out of school, we look at steps taken in northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to improve school conditions and enrollment.
In my latest, from Peshawar, I report on Pakistan’s “education emergency”.
A couple excerpts:
..more recently, the federal government announced a National Action Plan – essentially, an amalgamation of several provincial plans – that hopes to enroll 75% of out of school children (primary school) by 2016.
“They have basically moved the goalpost on the UN Millennium Development Goal by a couple years,” one official told me. “It’s possible, but you have to give it the requisite resources.”
In the new plan, 80% of the target students will be enrolled in public schools, 10% in private schools, and another 10% in religiousmadrassas. Formally allocating such a share to themadrasas at a time when some of them remain controversial has raised questions.
Most madrasashave maintained their dignified place as apolitical centers of religious learning, appealing to communities not only for “the low costs involved, but also in their pedagogy…mostmadrasasgo beyond theory and involve youngsters in action such as protests, lectures and sermons”. But some have been accused of promoting militancy and sectarianism. According torecent studies, the curriculums “instill a sense of superiority” that fuels sectarian tensions. “Examination of the syllabi and curriculum of the Pakistanimadrasasshows that in the name of refutation, potent criticism of other sects and religious minorities, hatred towards other sects, and a siege mentality are imparted, from the very beginning of the schooling,” the scholar Zahid Shahab Ahmed found. The government has not been able to put in place structures that monitor the activities and curriculums of thesemadrasas.
“They [the government in Khyber Pakhtunkwa] have allocated Rs. 1 billion tomadrasas [in the education budget this year],” Sardar Hussain Babak, the former education minister and current parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party, told me. “And I asked them how is it possible to audit so much money - there is no monitoring system.”
and later in the piece:
"…twenty percent of the teachers on average are absent in KP every day,” the secretary says. “Rs. 56 billion (or roughly $500 million) out of Rs. 85 billion ($785 million) total education budget is allocated to teacher salary – that means, out of every three rupees we spent on education in KP two are on salary, which leaves little for development or infrastructure. If that absenteeism is monetized – put a number to it – that comes to Rs. 11.2 billion (about $100 million) every year that just goes down the drain.”