Pakistan's children in schools | Islamisation at Quaid-i-Azam University
21% children still remain out of school
Islamabad, Jan 18: Despite the recent focus of the federal and provincial governments on enrolment
drives as a rhetoric on Article 25 A, 21% of Pakistan's children aged
5-16 still remain out of school.
According to the Annual
Status of Education Report (ASER) 2013 National Survey, the remaining
79% who are enrolled in the 5-16 age bracket are not learning much
These findings were made public in ASER Survey
2013 - the fifth ASER Survey report in a row - launched in Islamabad on
The ASER 2013 survey has been conducted by
10,000 volunteers managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) along with
many key civil society/semi-autonomous organisations that include
National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Sindh Education
Foundation (SEF), Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD),
HANDS, NRSP and several civil society organisations across Pakistan.
survey findings are based on the testing of 249,832 children (including
41 per cent girls) by 10,000 volunteer citizens, who personally visited
81,672 households in 4,112 villages as well as 14,158 children
(including 42 per cent girls) 5,372 households in 270 blocks in urban
areas of 13 districts across Pakistan. For the year 2013, the ASER rural
survey has been conducted in 138 rural districts in the country,
wherein 5-16 year age cohort children were tested for English, Language
(Urdu/Sindhi/Pushto), and Arithmetic competencies.
report aims to inform the progress or lack thereof with respect to
Article 25 A of the constitution making education a fundamental right
for 5-16 year old children since 2010.
It has also
identified that children enrolled in private schools are performing
better compared to those studying in government schools; 61% children
enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story in
Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto compared to 46 % Class V students studying at
government schools. The difference in learning levels is starker for
English, where 63% Grade V could read English Class II level sentences
compared to only 38% public sector students!
survey explains that boys are outperforming girls in literacy and
numeracy skills in rural Pakistan. As many as 46 per cent of boys were
found able to read at least sentences in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto as compared
to 40 per cent girls. The gender gap in learning levels is highest for
Arithmetic where 45% of Class V boys were able to do Class II level
subtraction as compared to only 38% Class V girls.
survey informs that over all teachers' attendance in government schools
stood at 87% as compared to 93% in private schools on the day of the
survey. Private teachers were reported to have better qualifications at
graduate levels; for example, 39% teachers in private schools are
graduates in comparison to only 34% in government schools.
trends in multi-grade teaching across schools are also mixed as 48% of
government and 30% of private schools are imparting multi-grade teaching
at Class II level.
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'Annual enrolment in AIOU rises to 1.4 million'
Islamabad: The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) achieved some unique
milestones in four years and now it annually enrols 1.4 million
students, who are taught 200 courses by 62,000 tutors in 50 regional
centres across the country.
Efforts of AIOU Vice Chancellor Dr Nazir Ahmad Sangi during the past four years helped the university meet its targets.
a briefing to reporters on Friday, Dr Sangi said that when he took
charge four years back, the university was one semester behind its
schedule and 12,000 complaints of students were pending.
"Now the university is taking examinations right on schedule and there are no more pending complaints of students," he added.
Sangi said now the university was financially independent and like
others did not look towards the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to
meet its recurring and development expenditure.
The salaries of employees were increased by 150 per cent from the university's own resources, he said.
Financial resources were increased by 40 per cent through efficiency and wastage and corruption was ended, he added.
student enrolment now stands at 1.4 million from 1.1 million in 2010,
he said, adding that despite increase in its expenditure, student fee
was only increased by 10 per cent.
He said that the university,
established in 1974, put on its payroll 15,000 more tutors and now their
total strength had reached 62,000.
"The university has expanded its
network to 50 regional centres and campuses present all across Pakistan,
in bigger cities as well as far flung areas of Turbat, Kalat, Chitral,
Mithi and Umerkot."
In his tenure, Dr Sangi religiously followed the
university charter, bridging the gaps in provision of education for
underprivileged and students from the rural areas, especially girls.
"Our objective has been to provide quality education which is affordable and people have equal access to it," he said.
said he was proud that to have introduced innovative practices and
technologies like video conferencing, linking regional centres, which
cut the cost and reduced need for travelling, besides setting up dozens
of computer labs and workshops for technical courses.
He has approved an SMS service so that the university can keep the students updated on admission and examination schedules.
doctoral-level studies is expensive everywhere but the university is
running a PhD programme for which a student has to pay only Rs 5,000 per
month," he said.
The vice chancellor focused his efforts on
streamlining examination systems and boosting standards by setting up
Directorate of Quality Assurance.
He said the university had
constantly strived to increase collaboration with foreign universities
using models of distance learning.
Now AIOU is member of the
executive council of Asian Association of Open Universities and has
collaborative arrangements with China, India, Bangladesh, Japan and
Korea, he added.
Dr Sangi said he succeeded in increasing enrolment
in short-term technical courses of agriculture, poultry, electrical and
plumbing to 7,000, which was only 700 three years back.
university also established a Directorate of Technical Education and
successfully convinced the federal and provincial governments to hand
over affairs of some of the dormant technical institutes.
said the university had plans to start technical institutes in Toba Tek
Singh, Attock, Loralai, Kalat, Hala and Gwadar, which would increase
future prospects for youth of those less-privileged areas.
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Islamisation fears at Quaid-i-Azam University
Islamabad: The Pakistan studies lecturer is in mid-flow when his
students stand and rush for the door – his class interrupted yet again
by the call to prayer.
"They won't come back for at least 30 minutes
and some of them even decide not to return to class," Sajjad Akhtar
said, gathering his notes and sitting down to wait for his students to
At the Quaid-i-Azam University, rated the best public
university in Pakistan and the best Pakistani university in Asia, this
is an everyday reality across all academic departments.
university grants a 15-minute break for prayers but any student is
allowed to get up as soon he hears the call to prayer in what critics
call a chaotic interruption of academic life.
They say increased
Islamisation in Pakistan's top teaching institutes and among the growing
middle classes is helping to dumb down academic standards and restrict
students' social life.
"At Quaid-i-Azam University there are four
mosques, but still no bookshop," says Pervez Hoodbhoy, a nuclear
physicist and one of Pakistan's most prominent academics who used to
Established in 1965 in the new federal capital
Islamabad, it was considered a liberal campus until 1977 when
controversial military ruler Ziaul Haq seized power.
10-year rule, until his death in a plane crash in 1988, Zia embedded a
conservative form of Islam into politics and affairs of state, and
ushered in Shariah law to run alongside the penal code.
and student bodies were banned in educational institutions, and Arabic
and Islamic studies were made mandatory for all students until
Additional marks were given in exams to students
who learned the Holy Quran by heart. Over the subsequent generations,
the trend has got deeper and more embedded.
"There are far fewer
students today who can sing and dance, recite poetry, or who read novels
than 20 years ago," Hoodbhoy told AFP.
"The university is very much like a school for older children, where rote-learning is considered education," he said
no intellectual excitement, no feeling of discovery, and girls are
mostly silent note-takers, you have to prod them to ask questions."
through the various departments, most female students wear the hijab –
the tight headscarf that hides all their hair and an import from the
Middle East – and none wear jeans.
None dare sit next to a man, a
common sight at more liberal privately-run universities which have
become the preserve of the elite as schools like Quaid-i-Azam cater to
the lower and middle classes.
Though no specific place is allocated for men and women in the central cafeteria, both genders sit as far apart as possible.
Hifza Aftab, a hijab-wearing MBA student, says there is no such thing as a "liberal" girl at the university.
young woman who arrives on campus without wearing a hijab or the looser
dupatta traditional to Pakistan quickly changes the look in two or
three months, she says.
"A liberal girl would get notorious throughout the whole university," she said.
was not always thus. Jamil Ahmed, who graduated in 1991, told AFP that
in his days the hijab was rarely seen and male and female students would
Hasan Askari, a former professor at the Punjab University,
said students are becoming increasingly attached to religion and
drifting away from rational thinking.
"The increasing Islamisation
has affected quality of education as today, teachers stress more on
conspiracy theories than logic," he said.
Last year a private school
in Lahore dropped human reproduction from the biology syllabus after an
outcry in the conservative Urdu-language press claiming it was
Quaid-i-Azam University Vice Chancellor Masoom Yasinzai
admitted academic standards had slipped over the years but insisted it
was a countrywide problem and had nothing to do with the growing focus
"Here at the Quaid-i-Azam University, academic standards
are not falling at an alarming rate," he said, adding that the
expression "Islamisation" was being used out of context.
"We have given students the freedom to practise their religion and I think practising religion is one's individual choice."
sectarianism and violence against minorities on the rise in Pakistan,
some fear encouraging a religious mindset in universities is storing up
problems for the future.
"If you have a very dominant view and very
authoritarian worldview which this curriculum is teaching you, that 'You
are Muslims, Islam is a good religion and other religions are not
good', that value system will create a social crisis in society,"
education analyst Farzana Bari told AFP.
At one of the mosques on
campus, a number of religious books are on display on the bookshelves
and free for students to take away.
One of them, entitled Put an end
to obscenity has pictures of a computer, CD player and a drum set on its
cover with a red cross on top of each.
The book explains how playing
music during marriage ceremonies affects "the next life" and how angels
pour melted copper into the ear of anyone who listens to music or the
At the mosque, cleric Habibur Rehman Saleem says, "Some
people are trying to create an environment like that of the West here,
but God willing the students are religious and they will never let any
such conspiracy succeed."
Touseef Ahmed Khan, chairman of the
Federal Urdu University in Karachi, said he could see no change coming
soon. "A whole generation was Islamised and those who started their
academic career during the Zia regime are now retiring from their jobs,"
he said. "This phenomenon of Islamisation has been there for three
decades, you cannot reverse it in one year – it will take decades to do
so." Daily times
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Action sought against CPSP for issuing 'unrecognised' degrees
Islamabad: The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has
requested the Ministry of National Health Services to take action
against College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSP) which has issued more
than 2,000 FCPS degrees even though its programme is not 'recognised'.
CPSP is an autonomous institution offering certification following
postgraduate training in specialties of medicine, surgery and dentistry.
However, PMDC has not recognised its courses due to which there is tension between the two bodies.
An official of PMDC, requesting anonymity, said the council had
requested CPSP a few ago to provide data of all the FCPS degrees which
the latter had issued. However, CPSP failed to do so and was hiding
details of the degrees.
"After failing to obtain the required information, PMDC wrote a
letter to the Ministry of National Health Services to take suitable
action and constitute an inquiry committee to acquire the data from
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