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Education After Post 18th Constitutional Amendment and Responsibility of Society

Education After Post 18th Constitutional Amendment and Responsibility of Society

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Published by: nomansid on Dec 26, 2011
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02/01/2014

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Education after Post 18
th
Constitutional amendment andresponsibility of Society
The Eighteenth constitutional amendment has some drastic effects on overall Pakistani legislativeand administrative system. While Education sector has no exception, the omission of concurrent listhas opened a Pandora of issues, ranging from planning, implementation, finances on one side andthe curriculum, teacher training, syllabus, and infrastructure on other side. Before elaborating theseissues it is essential to understand the effects of 18
th
amendment on educational sector and how it isdifferent from pre 18
th
amendment scenario.There are two distinctive changes in 18
th
amendment. First the inclusion of article 25A that ensuresthe right to education to the children from five to 16 years, and second the exclusion of concurrentlist which implies that the curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, Centre of excellence and standardsof education would be devolved and comes under provincial jurisdiction.The implications of 25A can only be significant if the government really exhibit the will to implementthe clause in its true essence, however if such would be the case then even the National EducationPolicy (2009) may suffice where it has been suggested
that ‘Provinces and Area Governments shall
affirm the goal of achieving universal and free primary education by 2015 and up to class 10 by
2025.’ In fact the NEP is more strategic (as it should be) in achieving the education goal.
Nevertheless the article 25A provides an opportunity to develop a legislative framework forEducation sector that would provide the basis of accountability of responsible authorities who maybe involve in denying this basic right to education.The second and the most significant effect of 18
th
amendment is the abolishment of concurrent list. As stated above it has implications on all those educational areas which were part of federal jurisdiction. In fact apart from Higher education, everything related to education is now devolved tothe provinces. After 18
th
amendment two school of thoughts emerged in an academic circle, thosewho are in favor of, and those who have serious concerns.Those who have concerns advocates that the provinces have some serious deficit of capacities interms of financial, human and technical expertise to take up the colossal challenge of planning andimplementing the province wide education system. Another principal concern raised is more on ideological grounds, and curriculum is the basis of suchgrounds. After the 18
th
amendment, provinces would have freedom to exercise free hand in
 
developing curriculum that suits them the best. However in doing so they may end up withsomething which is not aligned with national ideology and cohesion. In worst case one province maydevelop curriculum which is not acceptable to the norms of the other province and hence couldembark into direct conflict. According to them such scenario is not ignorable in countries likePakistan where political parties and their ideologies differ significantly. Reviews of past educationalpolicies are good examples of such division. Expanding to national cohesion issue another concernraised is the standardization of the educational system in Pakistan. In this case the fundamentalquestion is how can a nation ensures that the same standard of education has been taught fromnorth to south of Pakistan. Similarly the representation of Pakistani education system ininternational arena where Pakistan is signatory and member of several treaties and agreementswould have been diffused, as no central body would be present to represent the nation.On the other hand proponents of 18th amendment view it as an essential and long awaited change,which can lay a foundation of bridging planning and implementation gap. To them eighteenamendment provides the basis of autonomous educational provision through which provinces canplan and implement the educational system according to their needs and requirements. For e.g. if Baluchistan economy relies mostly on natural resources then for obvious reason it needs a manpowerwhich is trained and skilled in the same sector, comparatively Punjab with more agrarian economyhas its own requirements. Same arguments have been made for promoting local and regionalcultures including languages and customs. Another major point made by the proponents of 18
th
amendment is bridging the gap betweenplanning and implementation. One of the terrible issue of Pakistani educational system since itsinception was remain the gap between planning and implementation. Historically the planning wasdone at the federal level with little consultation from provinces (at-least provinces were always onblaming side, arguing that they were not taken in confidence in developing policies, rules andregulations) resulting in a huge misconceptions and lack of ownership from provincial side.The proponents also answers to the concerns raised after the amendment. To them the capacity of provinces to develop and run the educational systems is largely under rated and usually emanatesfrom the trust deficit embedded in the psyche of federal level establishment. To them most of theoperational level expertise are already present at the provincial level and what is not available canalways be develop or imported. Similarly most of the funding specially for primary and secondarylevel education was already part of the provincial budget.From the above few points it is clear that there is an imbalance between the opinions and attitudesfrom two opposite sides. It also shows that the provinces are not ready to embark the responsibility
not because they don’t have capacity or resources but because they still lack
unified thoughts in
 
bringing forth the plans which are not only aligned with the provincial requirements but alsounsusceptible to national integrity and cohesion.One of the reasons of such lacking is the dearth of coherent, thoughtful and meaningful dialoguebetween the educationist, planners, policy makers, implementers etc. representing the grass rootlevel and the officialdom level. Quite often the impressive talks, presentations and conferencesgenerate immense interest in various educational issues but fail to bring any lasting imprint oneducational discourse, educational policies and practices. It is this important to conceive of dialoguesthat are concentrated, evidence based, bringing forth concrete solutions and carry the messageforward to ensure impact on policies and practice. The dialogues in light of evidence and amongrelated people have greater potential to generate more meaningful and relevant discussions. If anon-threatening environment is somehow created to ensure free, frank and open dialogue, solutionscan be forged. Such solutions need to be carried forward to the policy and practice level for broaderimpact utilizing various forums
 – 
monographs, technology, media etc. Such discourse also helps toemanate the common grounds where all the groups unanimously agree to the issue and its possiblesolutions.In the light of above discussion it is imperative to open the venues through which people couldengage in to meaningful discourse, however the modus operandi of such discourse is still a questionmark. Shall it be a policy dialogue, an interactive writing contest, conference or some other out of boxmechanism?Number of questions need to be answer for e.g.
 
 
How to engage education sector stakeholders to develop a consensus on educational issues?
 
 
How to prioritize the issues, i.e. which issues require addressing first?
 
 
What are the mechanisms require that ensures provincial autonomy and at the same timerespond to national integrity demands? Above and many other questions like above demands a movement from civil society and governmentofficials to come forward and engage in the process. Otherwise the fear is that the education systemagain falls in to the myriad of despair or mirage of joys which solely exists in our mind but nevertransform in to meaningful practice.

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