Love at home

Respect your spouse.

Listen to her/him.

Praise her/him every now and then.

Build confidence.

Show your love.

Pay due care to her/his ease.

Be loyal to each other.

Respect parents and other family members of the spouse.

Never doubt and ridicule her/him.

Fulfill her/his desires.

Give enough time and attention.

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Kindness Revolution

Kindness Revolution

By Tahir Ali Khan

http://daanish.pk/7237/

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With rampant corruption, poverty, terrorism, extremism, intolerance and self-centredness making life difficult and miserable for most of the humans and animals in the world, it is high time a Kindness Revolution is seen here.

We all wish that we and our family members, relatives and friends live a life full of love, peace and ease. We also want our country and the world to be peaceful and pleasant.

It’s indeed good to aspire for these ideals but if there is no corresponding commitment to do something for the purposes, we won’t have the cherished environment.

Remember that the difference between what is impossible and what is possible to achieve is the extent to which we are committed and determined to achieve our goals.

And remember that to make the world a lovely and pleasant place, every man and woman has got to fulfil his/her responsibilities in this regard. We will have to start a kindness process ourselves today. This surely will result in a kindness revolution.

Here are a few steps that anyone can take and which can help make the world a better abode for all of us and other creatures.

  1. Be courteous to all. Meet everyone with a smile on your face. Try to be of ease and mercy for others. Deal all with honesty, tenderness, tolerance and spirit of sacrifice.images
  2. Love to all and hatred for none should be your motto. Kick hatred, vengeance and self-interest out of your heart and you will be safe from lots of problems.
  3. Offer gifts to anyone who looks hungry or needs/asks for it.
  4. If Allah has been kind to you, you must help the poor on regular and permanent basis. Feeding them, buying them clothes, financing their treatment or educating them could be some of its shapes. Make it your habit to offer this support to your relatives, neighbours or strangers.
  5. Try to help the needy and the poor. Feed, clothe and educate them. Give permanent support to a few needy families. Try to reduce the burden of the people by guiding them, lifting or carrying their luggage, searching for things, crossing of roads or climbing up and so on.
  6. Never ridicule others. Respect all.images1
  7. Give preference to others over yourselves. Sacrifice your ease for others. Offer your seat to ladies or elders who are standing in public transport. Let others stand or go before you in lines. Share your umbrella with others when it rains. Offer lifts to the needy, children and ladies in good faith.
  8. Be patient and tolerant especially when others are harsh to you. It is indeed real nobility.
  9. Visit hospitals, old age centres, orphanages and Darulkifalas. Talk to the inmates there. Listen to them. Help them in every possible way and also urge others.
  10. Assist both your permanent and temporary neighbours (companions in journey etc) and permanent ones when they need or request for it.
  11. Value and extol good habits, words and conduct.
  12. Always be the first to greet. Don’t wait for others to talk to you first.
  13. Give praise, respect, gifts and attention to others without any expectation of the same.
  14. Contact your friends, relatives, teachers, elders and youngsters through call, messaging or letters. Give them importance. They will surely feel inclined towards you more.
  15. Respect, facilitate and love your subordinates like all noble persons.
  16. Invite your relatives, neighbours and job colleagues every regularly even if at a cup of tea or glass of juice.
  17. Be a good listener. Listen intently. Talk on your turn and if after others finish speaking.
  18. Talk gently and properly. Your words and manner must both be proper. Your voice should neither be too feeble nor loud. Turn your whole body to the person who you talk to. Looking sideways while talking displays arrogance or lack of courage. Avoid this.images3
  19. Avoid suspecting others as far as possible. Always think positively when thinking of the person, character and faith of others.
  20. If you are an employee, try to perform your duties with utmost devotion and honesty. Treat the visitors and applicants well. Give them a good smile and try to help them out.
  21. Give maximum time and enjoy your company with friends, family members and the people at hand. Give them enough attention and respect. No noble person could be expected to keep messaging distant friends but ignore those sitting beside him at present.
  22. Never sever relations with friends or relatives or show haughtiness and indifference to them. Always be prepared to clarify if they feel annoyed. But always remember to ignore their faults. Be a source of unity and never of disarray.
  23. Anger, malice, backbiting and self-centredness cut down love and brotherhood. Avoid them. Don’t say anything about someone which you could hardly tolerate yourselves from their side.A-man-giving-a-homeless-woman-his-shoes
  24. Readily accept a mistake if you commit one. Get rid of the habit of blaming others for a problem, failure or hardship. If you find others to be harsh, emotional, intolerant and unjust and you see that your response could make things worse, show patience. Keeping quiet or talking softly and sweetly is a sure recipe of keeping peace, relationships and love.
  25. Keep quiet in anger and control your senses and response. You must always be inclined to know and respect what others feel. Love empathy.
  26. Love the children. Confront them with a smile in neighbourhood, market, park and pathways. Greet them. Give them toffees when you meet them.images4
  27. Alms giving surely help remove problems and ensure prosperity. Spend at least one percent of your income on the poor and needy. But please spend carefully. A portion of your charity must be apportioned for those relatives, neighbours and strangers who don’t ask for charity but appear entitled even to a layman.
  28. Instead of making videos on mobile when there is an accident or bomb blast, try to take the injured to the hospital, inform the police or their relatives and emergency rescue services.
  29. Raise your voice for the illiterate children, orphans, widows, the sick, minorities, the beggars and the poor and against aerial firing, drugs and other social evils.
  30. Be a friend of environment. Work for green and clean atmosphere. Create awareness on tree plantation and conservation of flora. Also love animals. Provide the ants, birds and other animals with ease and food in your home and neighbourhood.

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ردعمل یا صبر و حکمت؟

ردعمل یا صبر و حکمت؟

چند مہینے پیشتر پی ٹی وی ہوم پر ایک ڈرامہ چلا تھا۔ ایک لڑکی، جو ڈرامےکا مرکزی کردار تھی، کے رشتے کے لئے ایک عورت، اس کا شوہراور بیٹا آئے ہوئے تھے۔ لڑکی انہیں پسند آئی، اس کے بعد لڑکے کی ماں نے دبے لفظوں میں جہیز کا تقاضا کیا۔ لڑکی، جو کچھ فاصلےپر کھڑی یہ باتیں سن رہی تھی، اس پر بھڑک اٹھی اور اس نےاپنے ماں باپ کی موجودگی کو بالائے طاق رکھتے ہوئے اس عورت سے کہا ’’معاف کیجئے آپ کو اپنے بیٹے کے لئے بیوی چاہیے یا گھر کےلئے جہیز؟ ‘‘۔ پھر اس نے کھڑےکھڑےفیصلہ سنا دیا کہ وہ کسی ایسے گھر میں شادی نہیں کرے گی جو جہیز مانگے گا۔ اور پھر انہیں درشت لہجے میں فوراً چلے جانے کو کہا۔ لڑکے لڑکی دونوں کے والدین حیران ایک دوسرے کا منہ تکنےلگے۔ لڑکے کی ماں اٹھی تو لڑکے نے اسے بٹھا دیا اور اپنافیصلہ سنا دیا کہ وہ اسی لڑکی سےہی شادی کرے گا۔ پھر شادی ہو گئی، لڑکا لڑکی نے چند روز ہنسی خوشی سے گزارے۔ پھر بہو ساس کی روایتی ان بن ہو نے لگی مگر لڑکے کی ماں اگر ایک بات سناتی تو ’نڈر اور حق گو‘ لڑکی بھی دو بدو جواب دیتی۔ لڑکی کی تیزی کی شکایت ماں نے بیٹےسےکردی اور اس نے بیوی سے شکایت کی تو ’’حق گو صاحبہ‘‘ یہاں بھی خوب برسی اور اپنی بے گناہی کا رونا روتی رہی۔ مرتا کیا نہ کرتا شوہر برداشت اور خوش اخلاقی کی تلقین کرتا چلا گیا۔

اس کے بعد بھی کئی دفعہ ساس بہو کےدرمیان چپقلش ہوئی اور لڑکی ساًس کے ساتھ تیزی اور بے ادبی کا مظاہرہ کرتی رہی۔

ایک روز لڑکی کی ساس کے ساتھ حسب دستور توتو میں میں جاری تھی کہ بیٹا اندر آیا۔ ماں اسے دیکھ کر چپ ہو گئی مگر بیوی کی شوہر کی طرف پشت تھی، وہ اسے دیکھ نہ پائی اور وہ ساس کے ساتھ غصے میں بات کرتی رہی۔ کچھ دیر بعد بیٹا سامنے آیا اور اس نے اپنی ماں کے ساتھ بیوی کے رویے پر افسوس کا اظہار کیا تو لڑکی نے اپنی باتوں کی صفائی دینی چاہی اور معذرت کرنے سے انکار کر دیا۔ شوہر کے ساتھ بھی اس کا لہجہ سخت تھا اور جب شوہر نے اس کو کہا کہ وہ اپنا رویہ درست کرے ورنہ اسے میکے چلےجانا ہوگا تو اس نے اپنی ماں باپ کی عزت پر کوئی سمجھوتہ کرنے سے انکار کرتے ہوئے گھر جانے کا فیصلہ کر دیا۔

نئی نویلی دلہن بیٹی اکیلے گھر لوٹ آئی تو ماں باپ رونے دھونے لگے۔ وہاں لڑکی کا کوئی دور کا کزن اس وقت موجود تھا، اسے بھی ایک ایسی ہی لڑکی کا انتظار تھا چنانچہ اس نے لڑکی کو شریک حیات بنانے کا فیصلہ کر دیا۔ ڈرامہ یوں ہنسی خوشی ختم ہو گیا۔

اس ڈرامے کے محاسن و نقائص پر بات کر نےسے پہلے چند ضروری گزارشات پیش خدمت ہیں۔

1۔ اسلام نے شادی کے وقت مرد و عورت دونوں کو انتخاب کاحق دیا ہے اور شادی کے وقوع کےلئے دونوں کی رضامندی کو بنیادی شرط قرار ډیا ہے۔

:2اسلام رشتوں ناتوں کو جوڑنے اور انہیں توڑنے سے اجتناب کی ہدایت کرتا ہے اور رشتے ناتے توڑنے والے کو جنت سے محروم قرار دیتا ہے۔ ناچاقی کی صورت میں مرد کو طلاق جبکہ عورت کو خلع کا حق حاصل ہے۔ تاہم رشتوں کو قائم رکھنے کے لیے اسلام طلاق کو جائز مگر ناپسندیدہ عمل گردانتا ہے۔

:3 اسلام شوہر اور بیوی دونوں کو باہمی محبت، برداشت، احترام اور وفاداری کی تلقین کرتا ہے۔

4۔ اسلام معاشرتی میل جول اور خانگی زندگی دونوں میں برداشت، رواداری، خوش اخلاقی اور عفو و درگزر کا درس دیتا ہے۔

5۔ جہیز اپنی حیثیت کے مطابق دینی چاہیے اوراس کی بنیاد پر رشتہ کرنا یا توڑنا ایک قبیح عمل ہے جس کی ایک شریف آدمی سے توقع نہیں کی جا سکتی۔ اللہ اور اس کا رسول اس ظلم سے بری ہے کہ جہیز نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے قوم کی بیٹیاں تجرد کی زندگی گزارنے پر مجبور ہوں۔

آئیےاب اس ڈرامے پر بات کرتےہیں۔ اس ڈرامے کے پلاٹ میں موجود چند بنیادی نقائص ( جیسے ڈرامے میں دګھائےجانے والے مفلس خاندان میں لڑکے کا رشتے سے پہلے ہی ماں باپ کےساتھ رشتہ کرنے لڑکی کےگھرجانا، لڑکی کی وہاں باتوں میں مداخلت اور آخر میں طلاق و عدت کے بغیر ہی دوسری شادی کے لئے راضی ہونا وغیرہ) کے علی الرغم ڈرامہ نگار نے قوم کی بیٹیوں کو جو تعلیم دی ہے اس کا خلاصہ یہ ہے۔

’’جہیز ایک لعنت ہے، اس سے نجات کےلئےلڑکیوں کواپنے معاملات اور فیصلے اپنے ہاتھوں میں لینے ہوں گے، صبر و برداشت کی جگہ ردعمل اورانتقام کو طرزعمل بنانا ہوگا، خوش اخلاقی اور اطاعت کی بجائےوالدین کی نافرمانی اور بزرگوں سےگستاخی کوشعار بنانا ہوگا۔ انہیں اس بات کو بھی یقینی بنانا ہوگا کہ شرافت کی بجائے دھونس سے کام لیں تاکہ کوئی ہر کوئی ان سے ڈرے۔ ساس سے دب کر بات کرنے کی بجائے اسے دو بدو جواب دیں۔ ایسا کرتے ہوئےانہیں اس اندیشے میں نہیں پڑنا چاہئیےکہ یہ رشتہ ٹوٹ گیا تو پھر ان کا ہاتھ تھامنے والا کوئی نہیں ہوگا۔ بلکہ وہ جیسے ہی اس رشتے کوتوڑ دیں گی، انہیں نئے رشتے فوراً مل جائیں گے۔ ‘‘

ڈرامےمیں جس طرح دکھایاگیا عملی زندگی میں ویسا کہاں دیکھنے میں آتا ہے۔ جب لڑکی ماں باپ کے سامنے ہی گھر آئے ہوئے مہمانوں کی کلاس لےلے تو ایسی لڑکی کو کون بہو کے طورپہ قبول کرےگا؟ اس لڑکی کو زبان دراز اور گستاخ نہیں سمجھا جاتا کیا؟ ایسی لڑکی کو کوئی کیوں بہو بنا کر گھر میں آفت کی پوڑی لانے کی کوشش کرے گا، یہ بات سمجھ نہیں آئی۔

پھر ڈرامے میں جس طرح اس حق گو لڑکی کو ہر بار اس کی ‘حق گوئی‘ پر انعام دیا گیا کہ پہلی بدسلوکی کےباوجود لڑکے نے اس سے شادی کی اور پھر اس کے ساتھ جیسے ہی ناچاقی پیدا ہو گئی تو دوسرا لڑکا اسی وقت اس سےشادی کےلئے تیار ہو گیا ایسے اتفاقات کا عملی زندگی سے دور کا بھی کوئی واسطہ نہیں ہے۔

سوچئے اس ڈرامے کو دیکھنےوالی اور اس سے سبق لینے والی کوئی دختر ملت اس امید پر اپنا ایک رشتہ ختم کریگی کہ اسےمتبادل رشتہ فوراً مل جائے گا اور پھر ویسا نہ ہو تو وہ اپنی ناکامی اور تنہائی کی شکایت پھر کس سے کرے گی؟

ڈرامے میں جس طرح لڑکی کو بات بات پر غصے اور جذبات میں بات کرتے، بازپرس کرتے اور بات بات کا بتنگڑ بناتے دکھایا گیا اور اس پر اسے جیسا انعام ملنا دکھایا گیا اسے یقیناً بد خوئی، جذباتیت، اور عدم برداشت کی تبلیغ ہی سمجھا جائے گا نہ کہ جہیز کی بیخ کنی اور عورتوں کے حقوق کی حفاظت کی کوشش۔

میری ان معروضات کو اگر کوئی ان معنوں میں لے گاکہ میں عورتوں کو نکاح سے پہلے حق انتخاب کا منکر یا ان پر ظلم وجبر کا قائل ہوں تو یہ اس کی اپنی کج فہمی پر دلالت کرے گی۔ میں جو چاہتا ہوں وہ یہ ہےکہ یہ جہیزکی لعنت سے چھٹکارا حاصل کرنے اور عورتوں کی حقوق کی حفاظت کا کام بد تہذیبی اور ناشائستگی کے بغیر اور صبر و حکمت، خوش اخلاقی اور خدمت و احترام سے بدرجہا بہتر اندازمیں ممکن ہو سکتی ہے۔

قوم کی بیٹوں کو ردعمل اور انتقام کی راہ پر ڈالنے کے متمنی کیا نہیں جانتے کہ یہ راستہ رشتوں میں دائمی بگا ڑ اور تباہی پر منتج ہوتا ہے؟ یہ بات سمجھنے کےلئے عقل افلاطون نہبں چاہئیے کہ صبر کا پھل میٹھا ہوتا ہے۔ رشتوں کو قائم رکھنےکا آزمودہ نسخہ یہ ہے کہ ایک طرف سے اگر زیادتی ہو، جذباتی رویہ، عدم برداشت اور ترش خوئی سامنے آئے اور اس وقت جواب دینے سے بات مزید بگڑنے اور رشتےختم ہونے کا خدشہ ہو تو دوسرا فریق صبر و حکمت سے کام لے اور خاموشی اختیار کرلے۔

اختلاف اور لڑائی گھر کی ہو یا باہر کی اس کے ہنگام صبر سے کام لینا، خاموش رہنا اور میٹھےبول بولنا امن لانے، رشتوں کو قائم رکھنے اور دوستی و پیار قائم کرنے کا ایک بہترین اور یقینی راستہ ہے۔ اللہ تعالیٰ نے بھی قرآن مجید میں بتایا ہے لوگوں کےساتھ اچھی طرح بات کیاکرو۔ تم دیکھوگےکہ جن لوگوں کی تمھارےساتھ دشمنی و عداوت ہے وہ تمھارے جگری دوست بن جائیں گے۔

CIVIC SENSE

What is civic sense? Do Pakistanis have/lack civil sense? Why do Pakistanis lack civic sense? What is needed for promoting civic sense?

By Tahir Ali

The writer is an academic who blogs at www.tahirkatlang.wordpress.com and can be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

 

While being interviewed by a panel at the Federal Public Service Commission, I was, inter alia, asked these questions, “What do you understand by the term civic-sense? What are the causes of lack of civic sense in Pakistan and what are your suggestions for ensuring widespread civic sense in Pakistan?

I answered the questions and the subsequent counter questions put by the interviewers in detail.  I had then resolved to write a comprehensive article on the issue but the idea could not materialise for my pressing engagements. It might have delayed it further but an interaction with one of my friends last week pushed me to go for it.

Last week, the friend Islam Ghani visited me and in the course of our discussion, he told me. “Every day when I leave home for my office, I see the drainage system blocked by polythene bags/garbage because one of my neighbours is in the habit of sweeping out all his garbage into the drain. I often clean the drain myself. The person and his children usually see me doing that. I request them to be sensitive to the neighbours but to no effect. And last week, the person had this to tell me: “I have done that. Do what you want/can. Do you think my garbage was to lie in my house? Why don’t you approach the municipal workers to come and clean the mess instead of becoming sweeper yourself or asking me to?” says Islam Ghani.

Throwing out your garbage this way and the subsequent response by the guilty speaks a lot of our public morality and an acute lack of civic sense in our society, he adds.

WHAT IS CIVIC SENSE?

The word ‘Civic’ means of or related to a city or people who live there or the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and the word ‘Sense’ means sound practical judgement or awareness about something. The term, therefore, literally means an understanding of the way how people should live and behave in a society.

Civic sense is a consideration for the norms of society. It includes respect for the law and for the ease and feelings of others and maintaining etiquettes while dealing and interacting with others. For example, if we visit someone’s house, ethics demand that we knock at the door, ask for permission to go inside or that we avoid visiting someone at the time of meals or at bed/rest time.

It means we respect and help others, avoid spitting on roads, streets and public places, avoid listening to loud music, refrain from blowing pressure horns, adhere to traffic rules, obey laws, park vehicles at nominated places, avoid wall chalking, ensure economical use of the natural resources and public facilities, help reduce leakage/wastage/misuse of gas/water/electricity, pay taxes and utility bills, wait for our turn, be tolerant towards opposing views, respect minorities and ensure religious harmony and devote ourselves to welfare/community services.

One is considered to have Civic Sense if he is caring and sensitive towards the elderly, women, children, disabled persons, the poor, the needy, neighbours, companions, subordinates, officers, public and private property, the environment, the animals, natural resources, or in short is behaving better with everyone and everything everywhere. It is about keeping lane while driving, desisting from rash driving or from driving while not in senses, throwing garbage but in a dustbin or designated places and avoiding smoking at public transport/places.

DO PAKISTANIS HAVE or LACK CIVIC SENSE?

Pakistan has been abundantly bestowed with natural resources. It has a highly fertile land. It has plenty of water. Its people are very intelligent and hard-working who have proved their worth and competence in every corner of the world. But the lack of civic sense is tarnishing our image as a respectable nation in the comity of nations and making the country an inhospitable place for both humans and animals. Instead of utilising the abundant natural and physical resources with care, these are being destroyed/wasted with impunity.

Good manners are exceptionally important in life and at the workplace. Unfortunately, most Pakistanis lack civil sense. They generally spit here and there, throw litters on and dirty the roads/public parks/platforms, disturb others by playing high-pitched music; we don’t care for others; we freely tease and harm others if we can escape getting caught/punished; we want to please our Lord by doing Naat-Khaani on loudspeakers even if it does adds to the woes of the neighbours or the sick; we waste natural resources with impunity and do not pay the utility bills; we violate laws, especially the traffic rules; we drive recklessly–one-wheeling on motorbikes is frequently seen; we write advertisements/graffiti on walls especially those of the toilets; we give bribes; we smoke in public places/vehicles; we ridicule the poor; we are intolerant towards others; and suspect and abuse others for nothing; hardly a few amongst us have the courtesy to offer their seat to a woman or an old person in public transport; the heaps of garbage in public parks, sea views, lakes and gardens, waste of food in functions and profuse use of polythene bags in our society display how acutely we lack civic sense. The polythene bags are not only creating health hazards but have the potential to disturb life in cities and destroy agriculture by blocking the sewerage and irrigation systems.

The scourges of extremism and terrorism are extreme manifestations of this lack of civic sense. Extremism has been resulted by the lack of due regard and tolerance for opponents and opposing ideologies. And terrorism is the result of a callous and ruthless mindset which divides the world between “us and them” and where there right of security of life and property is available only to ‘us’ while death is reserved for ‘them’, the opponents. Obviously, a man having civic sense –or regard for the life, honour, peace, happiness and ease of others- can neither be an extremist nor terrorism.

We often see people parking their vehicles in front of ‘No Parking’ signboards and at the footpaths. Materialism, terrorism, sectarianism, extremism, intolerance, racism, mud- slinging and quarrelling on petty issues, a mad race to excel others in money and prestige and disregard for the rule of law are both causes and manifestations of this lack of civic sense. Instead of listening carefully and respectfully to what others say, most of us resort to taunting and vandalism. As a nation, it seems, we are ruled more by our emotions than mind.

We claim having a strong culture of discipline and decency but then our people forget everything when it comes to eating and swarm the food in festivals and programmes.

WHY DO PAKISTANIS LACK CIVIC SENSE?

The familiar stereotyped perception is that the illiterate and the poor have no civic sense but it is erroneous to associate the lack of civic sense to wealth or poverty as the rich and the mighty also display lack of civic sense. For example, they delay flights with complete disregard for other passengers.

Lack of civic sense could be either due to lack of education and awareness. It could also be resulted by the lack of sensitivity and disregard for one’s obligations either for sheer arrogance or for the fact that there is monitoring/accountability structure in a given society that is required for forcing compliance to law. It is rightly said that people who have no sense of duties also have no civic sense and they usually violate not only laws but ethical obligations as well.

Then, we Pakistanis are always in a hurry so lining up and waiting for one’s turn is rarely seen. Again, materialism is fuelling the mad race for self-aggrandisement and account for the vices of corruption, nepotism, favouritism and other malpractices in government departments and private/public dealings.

Many dream of bringing change in Pakistan. But hardly a few are ready to change themselves. We want to bring change but only by criticising/correcting others. We are least prepared for introspection and self-reformation. The basic principle –that we cannot bring change unless we change ourselves, our attitudes and our mindsets –is generally forgotten

There is a memorable quote that best describes our style of religiosity. It read: “Pakistan is facing problems because everyone here wants a hearty share from the temporal bounties for himself/herself but is worried for the life-hereafter of others”.

The media, the intelligentsia and the education curricula could have been more helpful in bringing home the importance of civic sense. It has, unfortunately, been neglected thus far.

WHAT IS NEEDED FOR PROMOTING CIVIC SENSE?

NOT GOVERNMENT ALONE?

All responsibilities and tasks should not be left to government. Citizens need to perform their due role in each walk of life. We will have to shun the mentality that we have the right to throw garbage and spit anywhere and that it is the government’s duty to clean it.

INTROSPECTION AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT

For things to change, we must change. For things to get better, we must get better. We need to change ourselves first if we want change, reform and improved services. Setting a good example is better than teaching/preaching others what to do and what not to do. The Quran also declares: “Do you ask others to do the right things and forget about yourself?”

EMPATHY

We must be empathic. Empathy is trying to feel what somebody else is feeling or look at something through someone else’s eyes so as to understand, help and console him/her if needed. We should always have capacity and penchant to put ourselves in other place and think what would I have felt if this and that had been done to me. We need to be more civilized and caring for others. He/she must respect and facilitate others at home, schools, offices, hospitals, parks, transport and thoroughfares and in dealings, interactions, engagements and functions.

RIGHTS IMPLY DUTIES

It must never be forgotten that rights imply duties. Our rights are duties for others and others’ rights are duties for us. If we have a right to good, clean and peaceful environment, resources, security of life and property, and to be treated respectfully, these rights also imply duties on our part towards others. We must remember that every citizen has the right to enjoy civic amenities like drinking water, electricity, transport facilities etc. It is the duty of every citizen to use these civic amenities properly/carefully and pay the bills and other taxes imposed by the government so that welfare –development and repair/maintenance expenditures of public facilities –could be financed.

CONCERTED EFFORTS BY DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS

Different stakeholders –government, law enforcement agencies, media, religious scholars, civil society, professionals, the intelligentsia, and all others –should be involved and need to play their roles in promoting civic sense among the people.

ADVOCACY/ AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

There is a great need to educate/motivate people, organize training sessions, and run advocacy campaigns. There print and electronic media, the ulema, the civil society and the intelligentsia should spread more awareness on the demands of urbanisation, social ethics and conservation of natural resources and our duties as predecessors to our successors –the next generations.

INCORPORATING CIVIC SENSE IN TEXTBOOKS

Government should include reading material regarding civic sense in textbooks. By educating the youngsters in schools through textbooks, pictures and videos on civic sense, we will not only be making him a better human being but also help rebuilding the country.

PICTURES AND VIDEOS ON CIVIC SENSE

Media could promote civic sense by telecasting/broadcasting short clips about positive and negative behaviours. There are quite a lot of useful and impressive videos already available on the internet on civic sense. In one of them, a person spit in front of neighbour’s door. The neighbour cleans it daily and smiles back whenever the guilty one passes by. At last, the guilty person repents and gives up the bad habit. In another, four youngsters dirty a wall. Usually, passersby warn and try to beat the boys and they disappear but reappear soon to start dirtying the wall again. This practice goes on until a boy with civic sense appears. He brings water and duster to cleanse the wall dirtied by the boys. He is soon joined by many passersby in his effort. At last, the trouble-makers too come and help wash/cleanse the wall.

COMPETITIONS ON CIVIC SENSE BETWEEN PERSONS, TOWNS, CITIES

The government and civil society should announce competitions on different aspects of civic sense like cleanliness, courtesy, humility, cooperation, following the law, paying taxes, helping the needy, caring for others, respecting others, tolerance, awareness and sensitivity to others’ rights, sense of duty and service to humanity etc. These competitions could be used to ascertain and reward the person with the best civic sense in offices, departments, institutions, localities. Similarly, this competition could be used to determine the best cities, villages, wards, Union councils, tehsils and districts on any of the above aspects.

BAN ON POLYTHENE BAGS

As regards the abundant use of polythene bags, the government should prohibit the carrying of daily items in plastic bags. The ban is already there but it needs to be implemented.

BAN ON ONE-WHEELING

One-wheeling has resulted in countless tragedies but it, nevertheless, continues. It is not only insensitivity for one’s own but also for others’ lives. Merry-making at the cost of human lives cannot be tolerated.

ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISM

Government should announce that the shopkeepers and residents of a particular locality would have to dump their garbage at identified points only. It must also ensure that if someone is not throwing garbage in its proper place, he/she will have to pay a specific fine. The administration should bring to book the culprits destroying the natural resources and playing havoc with the lives and peace in society.

 

 

Dawn-KP budget 2014-15

Progressive taxation of farm incomes

By Tahir Ali

Published Jun 23, 2014 06:11am

http://www.dawn.com/news/1114457/progressive-taxation-of-farm-incomes
The Rs404.8bn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa balanced budget for 2014-15, with a Rs139.8bn annual development programme, is aimed at addressing economic, social and industrial woes of the impoverished province, but falls short of business expectations.
“It is a status-quo budget devoid of any change, vision and reform agenda, and neglects the potential sectors. KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise — there is 14.8pc unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Emergency steps are needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units and improvement in law and order and technical and IT education. But there is no proper roadmap for these areas.
“The government has failed to give new mineral, industrial, hydro, oil/gas and tourism policies reflective of its agenda for change,” says KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Zahidullah Shinwari.
The new budget is bigger by Rs69bn than the current budget of Rs344bn, while the ADP is higher by Rs21bn over this fiscal’s Rs118bn.
Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn from federal tax assignments, Rs12bn in net hydro profit, Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn from oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn as war on terror grant and Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance etc.
KP’s own revenue receipts are estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) and include Rs19.45bn in tax receipts and non-tax revenue of Rs9.3bn. This includes Rs12bn as GST on services. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from its own power plants.
The budget suggests insufficient measures to check the current expenditure which has reached around 70 per cent of the total budgeted outlay.
The finance minister promised to provide 15,000 more jobs in the public sector, but admitted that joblessness cannot be eliminated by the government alone. Without support of the private sector, and for that matter, economic growth, the problem cannot be solved.
There seems to be a genuine attempt to raise provincial revenues. The PTI-led KP government has proposed a progressive tax on agriculture income, as well as land tax and property tax. The KP revenue authority will conduct a proper survey to determine the property tax.
It intends to raise fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments etc. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions, including medical, engineering and law colleges.
The finance minister says the province is replete with abundant human and natural resources, but its population is living in poverty and backwardness owing to unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance. He vowed to root out these evils.
Prepared under the ‘Integrated Development Strategy’, the budget aims at good governance, responsive social services delivery, economic prosperity, peace, economic growth and job creation, improved transparency and accountability, enhanced fiscal space and gender equity.
The minister said the private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects in partnership with the public sector.
However, important sectors have been allocated higher but yet paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in the current year; Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn for agriculture. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy as 70 per cent people in KP are dependent on it for their survival.
A Board of Investment and Trade has been formed to ensure an investment- friendly environment and for economic revival. The KP oil and gas authority has been constituted for better use of existing resources and for exploring new ones. But the impact of the two bodies is still not yet visible.
The finance minister says KP’s industrial sector is hit by lawlessness, energy crisis, limited market, high cost of production, dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate technical knowhow.
For this, technical education is to be promoted and has been allocated Rs3.7bn.
A self-reliance scheme with a Rs2.7bn rolling fund has been proposed to give interest- free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth.
He said the mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but earmarked only Rs0.62cbn for the sector.
The government intends to set up a stock exchange in Peshawar and is seeking support of the federal government in this regard.
Several austerity measures have been proposed to bring down expenditure. No treatment/training abroad, no new cars and no new posts are to be allowed unless approved by the chief minister. The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of ministers, advisors etc. This is, however, being resented.
A sum of Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programmes such as health insurance and provincial youth technical education etc will be launched. A Rs6bn special relief package programme for giving subsidised edible items to the poor has been proposed in the budget.
Various hydro and alternate energy projects being launched include the construction of 350 small dams.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, June 23rd, 2014

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO DAWN
KP budget 2014<br
By Tahir Ali
The Rs404.8bn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa balanced budget for 2014-15 with Rs139.8bn annual development programme addresses almost all the problems the province is faced with but gives only partial remedies to the economic, social and industrial woes of the impoverished province.
“The budget is a status-quo budget devoid of any change, vision and reform agenda and neglects the potential sectors. KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise –there is 14.8 percent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 percent at national level. Province own revenues have remained stagnant. Real estate not taxed. Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units, improvement in law and order, focus on technical and IT education but there is no proper roadmap for the areas. The government has failed to give a new mineral, industrial, hydel, oilg/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” says the KP chamber of commerce and industry (Kpcci) president Zahidullah Shinwari.
Agonizing further is the fact that around 70 percent of the development funds lapsed in the current fiscal, he added.
The new budget is bigger by 69bn from the current year budget of Rs344bn while the ADP is higher by Rs21bn from this fiscal’s ADP of Rs118bn.
Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn federal tax assignments, Rs12bn net hydel profit plus Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn war on terror grant Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance besides some others sources.
KP’s own revenue receipts are estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45bn tax receipts and non tax receipts of Rs9.3bn. Rs12bn as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from own power plants.
The PORs target may be easily met in next fiscal and the years to come as new power plants get operational and sales tax collection targets is met for being easy,
Unlike other provinces, the budget has been divided into welfare, administrative and development sections but it is insignificant as welfare and administrative is the current budget having an outlay of Rs265bn while development budget is Rs139.8bn with Rs100bn local and Rs39bn foreign component.
The budget suggests insufficient measures to check current expenditure which has reached around 70 per cent of the total budget.
The expansion of the public sector must be a matter of concern for the subsequent government. The rising pay and pension bill of Rs176.5bn (66 percent of total current expenditure of Rs265bn) will squeeze space for development budget in future if not tackled. Industrialisation and Private sector
The finance minister promised to provide 15000 more jobs in public sector but he agreed that joblessness cannot be eliminated by government alone. Without support of private sector and for that matter economic growth, the problem couldn’t be achieved.
There seems to be a genuine attempt this time round to raise the provincial revenues locally and reduce dependence on federal and foreign funds. The PTI-led KP government has proposed a progressive tax on agriculture income, land tax and a progressive property tax.
KP has established KP revenue authority. This year a proper survey will be conducted to properly determine property tax.
It intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries.
The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.
The minister said KP is replete with abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness for unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance and vowed to root out these evils.
Prepared under the “Integrated Development Strategy”, the budget aims at good governance, responsive social services delivery, economic prosperity, peace, economic growth and job creation, improved transparency and accountability, enhanced fiscal space, gender equity and donor harmonization.
The minister said public private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects.
Education has proved to be its biggest priority. However, important economic sectors have been allocated paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in current year, Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and agriculture Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn in current year. The detailed expenditure report for the current year reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6bn, Rs24bn, Rs1.53bn, Rs2.2bn and Rs4.4bn respectively but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2bn, Rs3.72bn, Rs0.63bn, Rs0.65bn and Rs1bn could be utilised in this fiscal in that order.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy as 70 per cent people in KP are dependent over it for their survival but only Rs1.5bn has been allocated for the sector. The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce but the government comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.
A Board of investment and trade has been formed to ensure investment friendly environment and for economic revival. KP oil and gas authority has been constituted for better use of existing resources and to explore new ones but its impact is still not discernable.
To bring down poverty and accountability, the government has promulgated the right to information law and established a commission for access to information, access to services’ commission and conflict of interest commission, ihtesab commission, a complaint cell in CM secretariat. And a public procurement regulatory authority established to make the procurement system of hiring of services, goods and construction transparent and corruption free and introduced the market rate system instead of the composite scheduled rates to ensure transparency in development schemes.
The minister said KP industrial sector is hit by lawlessness, energy crisis, limited market, high cost of production, dilapidated infrastructure and lack of technical knowhow.
For this technical education is to be promoted which has been allocated Rs3.7bn. Technical University will be established.
Under the self-reliance scheme with a Rs2.7bn rolling fund has been proposed to give interest free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.
He said the mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but then only allocated Rs0.62cbn in ADP for the sector.
The government intends to set up stock exchange in Peshawar to support the progress of industry and trade sectors and wishes the federal government to take further measures in this regard.
The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by CM. But he didn’t specify what happened to similar measures in the current budget. The minister said the government has formed committees for monetization and economy which are working with far reaching consequences, though he failed to identify any.
The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of minister, advisors etc however is being resented.
Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programs, such as health insurance, long-term loan for development of industries, and provincial youth technical education scheme etc would be launched. Rs6bn more allocated for a special relief package program for giving subsidized edible items to the poor.
Various hydel and alternate energy projects being launched. Rs7bn have been allocated to construct 350 small dams. 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

KP Development budget 2014-15

No change in sight

Will the KP government be able to meet ambitious development targets set in the budget?

 
No change in sight
 
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented its budget for 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs404.8 billion last week. The Rs139.8 billion annual development programme is 20 per cent higher than the current year. It also includes Rs39 billion foreign component of which 79 per cent are grants.

KP Finance Minister Sirajul Haq says the province has abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness due unfair distribution of resources and lack of good governance.

Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12 billion federal tax assignments, Rs12 billion net hydel profit plus Rs32.27 billion as NHP arrears, Rs29.26 billion oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29 billion war on terror grant, Rs35.35 billion as foreign assistance besides some others sources.

KP’s own revenue receipts estimated at Rs29 billion (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45 billion tax receipts and non-tax receipts of Rs9.3 billion. Rs12 billion as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85 billion from own power plants. Current expenditure (welfare and administrative) will be Rs265 billion.

The government’s development priorities are right, people say, but they doubt it will be able to meet its defined goals. Our successive governments have failed to create jobs thus leaving Pakhtuns searching for even menial jobs in other provinces or abroad, they argue. Most of the development funds for the outgoing year largely remain unutilised, claims an industrialist.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects are being launched — Rs7 billion have been allocated to construct 350 small dams, while 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

The public-private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects. New industrial zones will be established but there is no plan for the revival of the sick industrial clusters like Gadoon Industrial estate.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects are being launched — Rs7 billion have been allocated to construct 350 small dams, while 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

Zahidullah Shinwari, the president of the KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry, terms the budget a status-quo budget devoid of any vision and reform agenda. “KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise — there is 14.8 per cent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 per cent at national level.”

“Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units and improvement in law and order, but there is no proper roadmap. The government has failed to give new mineral, industrial, hydel, oil/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” he said.

There is contradiction in the figures. The finance minister said the current ADP has 611 on going and 378 new projects of which 209 will be completed this fiscal. The remaining and ongoing project are therefore 780. But he said the next budget will have 1251 projects including 611 ongoing and 540 new projects.

In education sector, the government will upgrade schools, establish IT laboratories in high schools, provide furniture to 2300 schools, provide sports facilities in 2400 schools, provide scholarships to talented students and offer free education to special persons in all colleges of the province.

Agriculture is the mainstay of livelihood for over 70 per cent of KP people, acknowledges the minister, but for 46 projects, only Rs1.58 billion have been allocated. While the allocation has been marginally increased, it has in fact come down as percentage to the ADP — while the current year’s allocation was 1.8 per cent of local ADP, the new apportionment is 1.5 per cent.

In Rs39 billion foreign component of ADP, education again was the major beneficiary with Rs11.7 billion, followed by Rs7.6 billion for roads for five projects but agriculture gets only Rs0.8 billion, energy Rs2.6 billion and industries Rs1.6 billion.

The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce is the biggest hitch, the minister says, but he comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.

The PTI fans and even some ministers are taking pride in ‘a record increase’ in education spending to Rs111 billion but critics say most of the allocation (over Rs80 billion) comprises current budget which is but natural for being the biggest employees-wise department of the province.

The detailed expenditure report for the current year also reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6 billion, Rs24 billion, Rs1.53 billion, Rs2.2 billion and Rs4.4 billion respectively, but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2 billion, Rs3.72 billion, Rs0.63 billion, Rs0.65 billion and Rs1 billion in this fiscal.

In a bid to increase KP’s own revenue receipts, the government intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries. The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.

As per the Finance Bill 2014-15, an annual tax of Rs330 will be levied on a person in any profession and trade who earns between Rs10,000-Rs20,000. While a person earning between Rs200,000-Rs500,000 will pay tax of Rs10,000.

The employees of grade 1-5 have been exempted from the tax and the minimum professional tax threshold has been increased from Rs6000/pm to Rs10000 a month which, the finance minister said, will provide relief to low income class. But does the assertion hold any ground on the face of the fact that minimum monthly pay has been already fixed at Rs12000/pm.

Twelve categories are suggested for urban immovable property (UIP) tax. For technical education, Rs3.7 billion have been allocated and a technical university will be established. Rs2.7 billion have been earmarked to give interest-free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.

The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by the chief minister.

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ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT TO THE NEWS

KP budget 2014-15

By Tahir Ali

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented its balanced budget for 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs404.8bn last week.

The Rs139.8bn annual development programme is 20 per cent higher than the current year. It also includes Rs39bn foreign component of which 79 % are grants.

The KP finance minister Sirajul Haq says KP has abundant human and natural resources but its population is living under poverty and backwardness for unfair distribution of resources, flawed planning, joblessness, illiteracy, corruption, nepotism, weak accountability system and lack of good governance. He pledged making KP free of social, political and economic exploitation.

Major revenue receipts include Rs227.12bn federal tax assignments, Rs12bn net hydel profit plus Rs32.27bn as NHP arrears, Rs29.26bn oil/gas royalty, Rs27.29bn war on terror grant Rs35.35bn as foreign assistance besides some others sources.

KP’s own revenue receipts estimated at Rs29bn (up by 70 per cent against the current year) include Rs19.45bn tax receipts and non tax receipts of Rs9.3bn. Rs12bn as GST on services which rose by 100 per cent is inclusive of tax receipts. The province also earns Rs2.85bn from own power plants.

Current expenditure (welfare and administrative) will be Rs265bn. It needs to be checked or it will in future restrict room for development portfolio.

The government’s development priorities are right, people say, but they doubt it will be able to meet its defined goals. Our successive governments have failed to create jobs thus leaving Pakhtuns searching for even menial jobs in other provinces or abroad, they argue.

Most of the development funds for the outgoing year largely remains unutilised, claims an industrialist.

The public private partnership act has been approved. The private sector would be involved in the construction and maintenance of public sector development projects.

New industrial zones to be established but there is no plan for the revival of the sick industrial clusters like Gadoon estate.

Various hydel and alternate energy projects being launched. Rs7bn have been allocated to construct 350 small dams. 400 megawatts of electricity will be produced through gas whose cheap energy will be given to industries.

To bring down poverty and accountability, the government has promulgated the right to information law and established a commission for access to information, access to services’ commission and conflict of interest commission, ihtesab commission, a complaint cell in CM secretariat. And a public procurement regulatory authority established to make the procurement system of hiring of services, goods and construction transparent and corruption free and introduced the market rate system instead of the composite scheduled rates to ensure transparency in development schemes. .

Zahidullah Shinwari, the president of the KP chamber of commerce and industry terms the budget a status-quo budget devoid of any vision and reform agenda.

“KP is beset with flight of capital, rising unemployment, terrorism and energy shortage. Joblessness is on the rise –there is 14.8 percent unemployment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against around 9.5 percent at national level. Emergency steps were needed for economic growth, industrial revival, infrastructure development, energy supply, revival of sick industrial units, improvement in law and order, focus on technical and IT education but there is no proper roadmap for the areas. The government has failed to give a new mineral, industrial, hydel, oilg/gas and tourism policies reflective of its change agenda,” he said.

There is contradiction in the figures. The finance minister said the current ADP has 611 on going and 378 new projects of which 209 will be completed this fiscal. The remaining and ongoing project are therefore 780. But he said the next budget will have 1251 projects including 611 ongoing and 540 new projects.

In education sector, the government will upgrade schools, establish IT laboratories in high schools, provide furniture to 2300 schools, provide sports facilities in 2400 schools, provide scholarships to talented students and offer free education to special persons in all colleges of the province.

In Rs100bn provincial ADP, Education got Rs15bn but important economic sectors have been allocated paltry sums: Rs3.4bn for power sector against Rs1.4bn in current year, Rs4.7bn against Rs3.28bn for irrigation and agriculture Rs1.58bn against Rs1.53bn in current year.

Agriculture is the mainstay of livelihood for over 70 per cent of KP people, acknowledges the minister, but for 46 projects, only Rs1.58bnn have been allocated. While the allocation has been marginally increased, it has in fact come down as percentage to the ADP – while the current year’s allocation was 1.8 per cent of local ADP, the new apportionment is 1.5 per cent.

In Rs39bnforeign component of ADP, education again was the major beneficiary Rs11.7bn, followed by Rs7.6bn for roads for five projects but agriculture gets only Rs0.8bn, energy Rs2.6bn and industries Rs1.6bn.

The poverty and inability of farmers to use enough quality inputs to raise their produce is the biggest hitch, the minister says, but he comes up with only loans on easy terms for them.

The PTI fans and even some ministers are taking pride in ‘a record increase’ in education spending to Rs111bn but critics say most of the allocation (over Rs80bn) comprises current budget which is but natural for being the biggest employees-wise department of the province.

The detailed expenditure report for the current year also reveals that vital social and economic sectors of the ADP like social welfare, education, agriculture, energy/power and industries had been allocated Rs0.6bn, Rs24bn, Rs1.53bn, Rs2.2bn and Rs4.4bn respectively but actual utilisation remained at Rs.2bn, Rs3.72bn, Rs0.63bn, Rs0.65bn and Rs1bn could be utilised in this fiscal.

In a bid to increase KP own revenue receipts, the government intends to raise the ratio of provincial taxes and fees on stamp duty, professionals and professional institutions, business establishments, agriculture income and salaries. The rise in taxes/fees is expected to hit the consumers ultimately for it will be passed on to them. Strangely, a PTI-led government is to tax educational institutions including medical, engineering and law colleges.

As per the Finance Bill 2014-15, an annual tax of Rs330 will be levied on a person in any profession and trade who earns between Rs10,000-Rs20,000. While a person earning between Rs200,000-Rs500,000 will pay tax of Rs10,000. There are such slabs.

The employees of grade 1-5 have been exempted from the tax and the minimum professional tax threshold has been increased from Rs6000/pm to Rs10000 a month which, the finance minister said, will provide relief to low income class but does the assertion hold any ground on the face of the fact that minimum monthly pay has been already fixed at Rs12000/pm.

Twelve categories are suggested for urban immovable property (UIP) tax. An owner of upto 5 marlas house (other than self-occupied) in category A, B and C will pay Rs1000, Rs 900 and Rs750 in UIP respectively. Owners of over 5 marlas will pay UIP tax of Rs1700, Rs1600 and Rs1500, owners of 10 marlas will pay Rs2200, Rs2100 and Rs2000, owners of 15 marlas house will deposit Rs3300, Rs3200, and Rs3000 while those with 18-20 marlas houses and flats will pay UIP tax of Rs10000, Rs9000 and Rs8000 in the three categories respectively. Similarly other eight categories have different tax slabs for the immovable properties.

For technical education Rs3.7bn have been allocated and a technical University will be established. Rs2.7bn have been earmarked to give interest free loans of Rs50,000-200,000 to jobless youth on their personal guarantee.

The mineral sector could be used for poverty alleviation but only Rs0.62cbn have been allotted to it in the ADP.

The government intends to set up stock exchange in Peshawar to support the progress of industry and trade sectors.

The government proposed ‘several austerity measures’ to bring down expenditure. No foreign treatment/training, no new cars and no posts to be allowed unless approved by CM. But he didn’t specify what happened to similar measures in the current budget. The minister said the government has formed committees for monetization and economy which are working with far reaching consequences, though he failed to identify any.

The construction of houses for officials and ministers on 20 marlas and 110 per cent raise in salaries of minister, advisors etc however is being resented.

Rs7.9bn has been allocated for a pro-poor initiative under which various welfare programs, such as health insurance, long-term loan for development of industries, and provincial youth technical education scheme etc would be launched. Rs6bn more allocated for a special relief package program for giving subsidized edible items to the poor.

The education budget was Rs13.87bn in current fiscal while this year it will be Rs14.31bn for the next year.

 

 

Schools under watch

 http://tns.thenews.com.pk/schools-watch-education-monitoring-units-kpk/#.U1wh4KzOXp8

Will the Independent Monitoring Unit help improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in KPK?

Schools under watch
Anything but a school.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has launched an Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province. The IMU has been established under a three-year project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500 million have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget(s). The project will be extended if found useful after a third-party verification. Rs100 million have also been earmarked for establishing a third-party monitoring mechanism.

Muhammad Atif Khan, Provincial Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Department, says 475 IMU monitors — 303 men and 172 women — have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30,000 a month. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10,000 fuel allowance.

Each KP district has been divided in groups, each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.

On the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors, the minister says they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc.”

The monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds. He says monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head office in Peshawar.

Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan says, “The monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of the department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”

Lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

The KP Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak, recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to the IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only. The IMU has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.

It is hoped the IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (the IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.

Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE Department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of the IMU.

Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, is all praise for the IMU. He says the IMU is a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or a third-party check, he says, is done everywhere in the world. “Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, the IMU is the need of the hour,” he says.

“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to prevent the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimised by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.

Tahir Ali2

Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicised, powerless and under-funded. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be executed,” a teacher says.

But some term it ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.

“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators could do wonders,” says a teacher.

“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ performance also needs to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorised to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argues.

Another teacher complains that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers used to report on deficiencies and requirements of teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these were scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same, but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations? Khan responds the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.

Khan says: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. Why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”

Another teacher, wishing anonymity, says: “The monitors visit a school once or twice a month. What if a teacher, who is otherwise punctual and dutiful, is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?” He adds: “Educational monitoring is too technical a job to be left to inexperienced monitors. This is bound to fail.”

The KP E&SE Department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9 million students in 28472 total and 27975 functional government primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.

It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 if education offices also come under their oversight.

Besides weak monitoring mechanism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators and political interference, lack of basic facilities at schools is a big problem. Over 20 per cent of the functional public schools in KP still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

Tahir Ali

tahir ali
The author is an academic and a freelance columnist interested in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s politics, peace, education and economy. He may be reached at tahir_katlang@yahoo.com.
…………………
Original text of the article.
Impartial School Monitors
Or Independent Monitoring Unit
By Tahir Ali
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has launched the Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) to improve attendance and performance of teachers and education administrators in the province.
The IMU has been established under a three years project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. Rs500mn have been allocated for the initiative this year and more funds will be set aside for it in the next budget (s). The project will be extended if found useful after third party verification. Rs100mn have also been earmarked for establishing a third party monitoring mechanism.
Muhammad Atif Khan, provincial minister for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) department, says 475 IMU monitors -303 male and 172 female –have been appointed on merit for boys and girls schools respectively. They receive a fixed pay of Rs30000/pm. Male monitors have been given motorcycles with Rs10000 fuel allowance while female the latter.
Each KP district has been divided in groups –each consisting of up to 60 schools and every monitor is responsible for visiting all the schools in his group. He/she has to visit a school at least once a month.
About a question on the terms of references (ToRs) and standard operating procedure (SoP) of monitors and whether they could monitor the teaching-learning process, he said they are basically real-time data collectors and transmitters. “They have been trained for the purpose. They will collect, physically verify and send immediately data on the attendance of teachers, enrolment/dropout rate of students, needs and deficiencies of teachers and other school paraphernalia etc,” he said.
Monitors will also collect data on the inspection of officers to schools, the distribution of free textbooks, stipends to the female students and on the parents-teachers’ council (PTC) and other school funds.
For this purpose, he said, monitors have been given smart-phones with a proper format for feeding data and a general packet radio system (GPRS) to collect and transmit real-time data of/from the concerned schools to the IMU head-office in Peshawar.
Asked what measures have been taken to guard against the misuse of powers by monitors, Khan said. “Monitors have been trained to be polite to principals/teachers, not to indulge in reasoning or misbehaviour with them and avoid meddling in the teaching learning process. Their performance will also be monitored and action will be taken if any genuine complaints come to surface against them. The IMU is independent of department’s control. They have to submit data immediately from the school they visit. This has been done to save the system from data/record-tampering.”
KP chief minister Pervez Khattak recently issued directives of handing over the monitoring of all hospitals and basic health units to IMU. But the system has been put in place in the education department only partially: It has been empowered to monitor only schools in the public sector while education offices and private schools are still out of its ambit.
It is hoped IMU will help pinpoint “ghost schools and proxy teachers” (The IMU, as reported, has detected 12 proxy teachers, four women among them, in government schools in Buner district recently), improve teachers’ attendance and make it easy/possible to take action against the corrupt and negligent elements in the department.
Most of the principals and head-masters of the E&SE department support the initiative. They say teachers’ attendance and punctuality have improved significantly ever-since the launch of IMU.
Mumtazuddin, a principal of a government higher secondary school, was all praise for the IMU. He said IMU was a sort of an external counter-check upon the internal supervision system of the department. External or third-party check, he said, is done everywhere and is vital for bringing improvement.
“Officers fail to visit schools even in years. With teachers and internal monitors (administrative officers) mostly shirking responsibilities, IMU –an external monitoring system –was the need of the hour,” he said.
“Intra-district shuffling of monitors is being carried out every month to protect against the problems/dangers of familiarity/rapprochement between teachers and monitors. These dangers could be further minimized by inter-district shifting of monitors,” according to another principal.
Some teachers support the move: “One of the biggest problems is the flawed monitoring system. Exceptions apart, our departmental monitoring system is too politicized, powerless, underfunded, busy in file-work or lacklustre to properly monitor the schools under their jurisdiction. One hopes the IMU will be kept safe from political interference, corruption, and data-delaying/tampering for whatever reasons. Much will depend also on whether its recommendations will be impartially executed,” a teacher said.
But some oppose it terming it as ‘an unwarranted and inapt’ move that would ultimately bring little/no change. They say schools and teachers are monitored by head masters, and inspected by cluster heads, district education officers, directors, local bodies members, national and provincial assemblies’ members and chairman and members of the PTCs.
“There was no need to establish the IMU. Rather, the government should have strengthened/empowered the internal monitoring system. Schools should be left to the district education officers. Principals and officers should be empowered and political intervention in appointments and postings should be eliminated. Good administrators, like Mushtaq Ahmad, the ex-DEO Mardan, who comprehensively inspected all the schools of the district within a short span of three months, could do wonders,” said a teacher.
“Principals and administrators would also definitely give good results if facilities like smart-phones with GPRS connection and powers are provided to them and they are also made to report their inspection report immediately. Biometric attendance system at schools can also improve teachers’ punctuality. But teachers’ competencies also need to be improved. Principals should be explicitly authorized to hire new teachers from PTC or other school funds,” he argued.
Another teacher said that earlier principals/headmasters and the district officers kept reporting the deficiencies and requirements on teachers, chairs, desks, books and other basic facilities regularly but these are scarcely fulfilled. Now monitors do the same but will the government act upon their reports/recommendations and fulfil the deficiencies? Khan responded the government will ensure speedy action on their reports and recommendations concerning administrative and financial matters and will allocate resources.
When asked whether the step/body was tantamount to a distrust on the existing monitoring mechanism and shouldn’t the age-old system have been reformed/strengthened rather than establishing a new system, Khan said: “Rather it is a quest for excellence. And why would one have gone for this if the earlier internal monitoring system had been successful during the last 65 years? Our history proves and no one can contest that it has failed to deliver and that a change was needed.”
Another teacher, wishing anonymity, said: “Monitors visit a school once or twice a month. Now what if a teacher who is otherwise punctual and dutiful is on-leave or late on the monitor’s arrival date(s). Won’t that cause a negative and wrong perception about him in the IMU system?”
“PTI has rewarded the youth with jobs as monitors. But educational monitoring is too difficult and technical a job to be left to inexperienced fellows. This is bound to fail. It will, however, create hatred for PTI amongst teachers as disputes surface later.”
The KP E&SE department possesses over 168000 employees with 133750 sanctioned and 119274 functional teachers who teach 3.9mn students in 28472 total but 27975 functional Government Primary, middle, high, and higher secondary schools.
It means a monitor will check around 250-280 teachers and 58-60 schools. The monitor-employee ratio will be 1:350 once education offices also come under their oversight, something impossible.
Experts say weak monitoring mechanism, teachers’ absenteeism, crowded classrooms, indifference of teachers and administrators, political interference and schools sans facilities, etc are some of the problems facing education in the province.
Distressingly, 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities. As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says, only 1205, 254 and 1152 off the 3092 male and 451, 154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.

English medium education in KP

A medium of change
Tahir Ali
February 2, 2014

http://tns.thenews.com.pk/medium-change/#comment-4938

Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and now English.

Will the changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling in KP take the intended course?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is going to introduce English-medium schooling and a uniform curriculum in all the public sector schools from the upcoming academic session. The shift from Urdu/Pashto medium to English-medium textbooks will be completed in several phases. In the first stage commencing from this April, the students of grade one, besides English, will also study Mathematics and General Knowledge in English. With the promotion of these students to grade two, English-medium textbooks/education will also move up the ladder, if not earlier. The process will take about four to five years to reach up to secondary level.
Official sources say the government is fully prepared for the shift. “First, 400 master trainers were trained who are now busy training primary school teachers for grade one. The process will continue till mid-March and 36000 teachers will be trained this year. One teacher from each primary school will be guided on the new textbooks in ten-day workshops. For more classes later, more master trainers will be trained who would then train all the 120000 teachers in KP,” says an official privy to the process.
He says the government has prepared/printed textbooks and these will be provided well before the start of the session.
Teachers and parents say English medium education was long overdue. It will bring public sector schools at par with their private counterparts which have seen a mushroom growth in recent years. In the absence or shortage of quality English medium government schools, parents go for private schools which are increasingly getting costlier and unaffordable, they argue.
Naming them Centennial model high schools, the government had earlier converted a few government high schools to English medium status throughout the province. These schools proved a great success and have gained parents’ confidence.
The PTI activists say it will help end the decade-old class-based education, bring a uniform curriculum, remove disparities between the education standards in urban and rural areas, ensure equal opportunities for competition and progress to both the rich and the poor and will augment enrolment in government schools.
Nevertheless, changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling is, however, easier said than done. It is likely to bring several problems for both the students and teachers overwhelmed by an English-phobia of an extreme kind. But nothing is impossible for a resolute mind and hardworking administration. Though the government seems conscious of the gigantic challenges lying ahead, some precautions must be made.

Too ambitious for schools with no infrastructure.
Planners will not only have to select and train qualified and competent master trainers and teachers in the later stages, they also will have to prepare/supply books in time and a permanent monitoring mechanism will also have to be developed.
“We need hardworking and proficient master trainers and teachers to be able to teach maths and science in English. Without qualified and committed trainers and teachers and a robust oversight mechanism and competent monitors, the move will come to nothing. One hopes the government will be able to publish/provide textbooks in time and will induct, train and provide competent teachers for this purpose,” says Zubair Ahmad, an educationist.
“Training of teachers continues province-wide. To make the process successful, the concerned officials should ensure that a trainee teacher nearing his retirement or likely to be promoted in near future is not selected. Or at least two teachers should be trained for a class,” says a teacher.
“Some of the trainee primary teachers can hardly speak a simple sentence in English for grade one. The trainee teachers must be young, energetic, qualified (preferably graduate) and must be selected on merit without any interference from teachers’ union and politicians,” says a master trainer. “Also, primary teachers whose promotion to high schools is due shortly must never be considered for training as their departure would deprive their erstwhile schools of a teacher trained for grade one while his training would be of no use in high schools. The government should also plan and ensure follow-up activities so that teachers continue to teach to the class they were trained for,” says the trainer.
“Almost all the teachers at my centre are young. They take keen interest in the training. They are happy that English medium textbooks will improve enrolment and prospects of their students and augment their own prestige,” says another master trainer.
English-medium education is being started from grade one (Awal Aala). It means two preceding classes — the preparatory class (called Awal Adna locally) and the other called Kachi have been left out, says a teacher, Shafiq Khan. The KP government, however, recently announced playgroup classes will be started in public schools from the upcoming session.
Most developed countries have uniform system of education. But different curricula in the public and private sectors and religious madaris (seminaries) have sharply divided Pakistan. A modern/uniform curriculum is necessary to strengthen national unity and promote moderation and tolerance in the country. The PTI, in its 6-points education policy, too had promised a uniform education system if voted to power.
It requires huge funds, time, personnel, incessant work and cooperation from all the private schools and religious seminaries to have a uniform curriculum province-wide. So, the PTI has decided to bring uniform curriculum in government schools through English-medium textbooks for the moment. Private schools may be covered later. The PTI leaders argue the government and private schools follow the same syllabus for class 9 and 10, so why can’t it be the same in other classes.
One hopes the move will lead to healthy competition between the public and private schools. The government should also promote spirit of cooperation and coordination between the two.
The PTI opponents accuse it of being ‘secular’ having pro-west agenda (JUI-F leaders harp on the theory) while some analysts accuse it of taking the KP towards fundamentalism.
Following the landmark 18th Constitutional Amendment that devolved education and curriculum design to provinces, the KP government can modify its curriculum and textbooks. Textbooks lessons have been usually changed by successive governments and the PTI government is also expected to follow suit. But its leaders say they would do so in strict compliance with the 2006 national curriculum. It means there will be no major changes in curriculum introduced by the previous ANP-led government.
The ANP government had included lessons on local heroes in curriculum such as famous poets Rehman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Ghani Khan. They also included lessons on human rights, peace and religious tolerance and removed historic distortions, hate material and harsh sentiments against non-Muslims. The ANP activists say the Jamaat-e-Islami is now bent on reversing these changes.
The KP Elementary and Secondary Education Minister, Muhammad Atif Khan, as per newspaper reports, said Islamic ideology would be the basis of his government’s steps regarding curriculum. He said the PTI government would accept no bar on religious education and won’t tolerate external interference in this regard. He also vowed to rectify the ‘mistakes’ in present curriculum introduced by the ANP government.
The KP Information Minister Shah Farman reportedly said the KP would revise and develop curriculum as per Islamic teachings and the country’s cultural norms. He termed criminal the changes brought about by the ANP-led government (some changes he and Khan cited included the removal of Quranic verses on Jihad, mention of Kashmir as disputed land and replacement of lessons on Voice of God, Hazrat Umar and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with those on ‘The Man Who Was a Giant’, ‘Helen Keller’ and ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ etc).
“While its coalition partner — The JI — wishes to Islamise syllabi by expunging some ‘secular’ lessons from them and limit the donors’ role in policy/decision making, the civil society, opposition parties and donor agencies may dislike the move. How will the PTI deal with these conflicting viewpoints, remains to be seen,” says an ANP activist.

……………………

ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE

English-medium education in KP
Or
Uniform curriculum’ in KP
By Tahir Ali
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf led-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is going to launch a process of introducing English-medium schooling and a uniform curriculum through it, in all the public sector schools from the upcoming academic session.
The shift from Urdu/Pashto medium to English-medium textbooks will be completed in several phases. In the first stage commencing from this April, the students of grade one, besides English, will also study Mathematics and General Knowledge in English. With the promotion of these students to class 2, English-medium textbooks/education will also move up the ladder, if not earlier. The process will take about four to five years to reach up to secondary level.
Official sources say the government is fully prepared for the shift. “First, 400 master trainers were trained who are now busy training primary school teachers for grade one. The process will continue till mid-March and 36000 teachers will be trained this year. One teacher from each primary school will be guided on the new textbooks in ten-day workshops. For more classes later, more master trainers will be trained who would then train all the 120000 teachers in KP,” said a source.
He said the government has prepared/printed textbooks and these will be provided well before the start of the session.
Teachers and parents say English medium education was long overdue. It will bring public sector schools at par with their private counterparts which have seen a mushroom growth in recent years. In the absence or shortage of quality English medium government schools, parents go for private schools but which are increasingly getting costlier and unaffordable, they argue.
Naming them Centennial model high schools, the government had earlier converted a few government high schools to English medium status throughout the province. These schools proved a great success and have gained parents’ confidence.
PTI activists say it will help end the decade-old class-based education, bring a uniform curriculum, remove disparities between the education standards in urban and rural areas, ensure equal opportunities for competition and progress to both the rich and the poor and will augment enrolment in government schools.
Nevertheless, changeover from Urdu/Pashto to English-medium schooling is however easier said than done. It is likely to bring several problems for both the students and teachers overwhelmed by an English-phobia of an extreme kind.
But nothing is impossible for a resolute mind and hardworking administration. Though the government seems conscious of the gigantic challenges lying ahead, some precautions must be made.
Planners will not only have to select and train qualified and competent master trainers and teachers in the later stages, they also will have to prepare/supply books in time and a permanent monitoring mechanism will also have to be developed.
“We need hardworking and proficient master trainers and teachers to be able to teach maths and science in English. Without qualified and committed trainers and teachers and a robust oversight mechanism and competent monitors, the move will come to nothing. One hopes the government will be able to publish/provide text books in time and will induct, train and provide competent teachers for this purpose,” said Zubair Ahmad, an educationist.
“Training of teachers continues province-wide. To make the process successful, the concerned officials should ensure that a trainee teacher nearing his retirement, having poor eye-sight or likely to be promoted in near future is not selected. Or at least two teachers should be trained for a class,” said a teacher.
“Some of the trainee primary teachers can hardly speak a simple sentence in English for grade 1. The trainee teachers must be young, energetic, qualified (preferably graduate) and must be selected on merit without any interference from teachers’ union and politicians. Also, primary teachers whose promotion to high schools is due shortly must never be considered for training as their departure would deprive their erstwhile schools of a teacher trained for grade one while his training would be of no use in high schools. The government should also plan and ensure follow-up activities so that teachers continue to teach to the class they were trained for,” said a master trainer.
“Almost all the teachers at my centre are young. They take keen interest in the training. They are happy that English medium textbooks will improve enrolment and prospects of their students and augment their own prestige,” said another master trainer.
English-medium education is being started from first grade one (Awal Aala). It means two preceding classes – the preparatory class (called Awal Adna locally) and the other called Kachi have been left out, said a teacher Shafiq Khan. The KP government however recently announced playgroup classes will be started in public schools from the upcoming session.
Most developed countries have uniform system of education. But different curricula in the public and private sectors and religious madaris (seminaries) have sharply divided Pakistan. A modern/uniform curriculum is necessary to strengthen national unity and promote moderation and tolerance in the country. PTI, in its 6-points education policy, too had promised a uniform education system if voted to power.
It requires huge funds, time, personnel, incessant work and cooperation from all the private schools and religious seminaries to have a uniform curriculum province-wide. So, PTI has decided to bring uniform curriculum in government schools through English-medium textbooks for the moment. Private schools may be covered later. PTI leaders argue the government and private schools follow the same syllabus for class 9 and 10, so why can’t it be the same in other classes.
Once hopes the move will lead to healthy competition between the public and private schools. The government should also promote spirit of cooperation and coordination between the two.
Will KP change curriculum?
PTI opponents accuse it of being ‘secular’ having pro-west agenda (JUI-F leaders harp on the theory) while analysts (e.g. Najm Sethi) accuse it of taking KP towards fundamentalism.
Following the landmark 18th constitutional amendment that devolved education and curriculum design to provinces, the KP government can modify its curriculum and textbooks. Textbooks lessons have been usually changed by successive governments and PTI government is also expected to follow suit. But its leaders say they would do so in strict compliance to the 2006 national curriculum. It means there will be no major changes in curriculum introduced by the previous ANP-led government.
The ANP government had included lessons on local heroes in curriculum such as famous poets Rehman Baba, Khushal Khan Khattak and Ghani Khan, on human rights, peace and religious tolerance and removed historic distortions, hate material and harsh sentiments against non-Muslims but, its activists say, Jamate Islami is now bent on reversing these changes.
KP elementary and secondary education minister Muhammad Atif Khan, as per newspaper reports, said Islamic ideology would be the basis of his government’s steps regarding curriculum. He said the PTI government would accept no bar on religious education and won’t tolerate external interference in this regard. He also vowed to rectify the ‘mistakes’ in present curriculum introduced by the ANP government.
KP information minister Shah Farman reportedly said KP would revise and develop curriculum as per Islamic teachings and country’s cultural norms. He termed as criminal the changes brought about by the ANP-led government (some changes he and Khan cited included the removal of Quranic verses on Jihad, mention of Kashmir as disputed land and replacement of lessons on Voice of God, Hazrat Umar and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with those on The man who was a giant, Helen keller and Quaid-e-Azam etc).
“While its coalition partner JI wishes to Islamise syllabi by expunging some ‘secular’ lessons from them and limit the donors’ role in policy/decision making, the civil society, opposition parties and donor agencies may dislike the moves. How will PTI deal with these conflicting viewpoints, remains to be seen,” said an activist.

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KP school’s report

School report
KP’s Annual Statistical Report paints a bleak picture of schools in the province
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2013-weekly/nos-27-10-2013//pol1.htm#8

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP Elementary and Secondary Education (ES&E) Department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly-constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent) of the schools are government primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs), high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) make up 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361 and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647 rooms need total rehabilitation.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76 million in GMSs, 0.29 million in GHSs and 0.041 million in GHSSs across the province. Over 1.51 million students also read in 6743 non-government schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172), but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only one teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students. 10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools, but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms in women schools still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 per cent (52 and 44 per cent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519 million students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29 million which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16 million students of these are recorded in the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Though dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly, out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s woes, especially at higher secondary levels. 572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes, but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budget and has been allocated Rs24 billion off the total ADP of Rs118 billion this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.

…………..

Original text of the article

Schools in KP left in lurch

By Tahir Ali

Experts agree that education requires a congenial atmosphere and the provision of certain facilities like water, electricity, washrooms, playgrounds and computer-labs within the school premises. But hundreds of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa still lack basic facilities, an official document reveals.

It is mind-boggling to read that 20 per cent of the functional public schools still have no boundary walls, 30 per cent no water supply, 42 per cent no electricity and 16 per cent no toilets facilities.

According to the latest Annual Statistical Report released by the KP elementary and secondary education (ES&E) department, there are 28472 government schools in KP of which 27975 are functional while 397 are non-functional/temporarily closed and 100 are newly constructed. Majority or 23073 (83 per cent)of the schools are Government Primary schools (GPSs) while government middle schools (GMSs) high schools (GHSs) and higher secondary schools (GHSSs) makeup 9, 7 and 1 per cent of all the schools respectively.

Most of the non-functional/temporary closed schools are girls’ schools with 288 of them primary and 7 secondary schools.

Of the total 44873 and 25364 rooms in male and female GPSs, 4563 and 2039 rooms need major repairs, 11929 and 5504 minor repairs while another 3600 and 1416 room need rehabilitation respectively.

Similarly, amongst the 12644 rooms in GMSs, 784 need major repairs, 3048 minor repairs and 634 rooms are in need of rehabilitation. Again, off the total 15377 rooms in GHSs, 2220, 5361and 2343 rooms are in need of major and minor repairs and rehabilitation respectively. And off the 8167 rooms in GHSSs in the province, 648 rooms need major repairs, 1434 minor repairs and 647rehabilitation.

As for other facilities like library, computer and science laboratory, the report says that only 1205, 254 and 1152 off 3092 male and 451,154 and 561of the 1810 girls middle to higher schools have these facilities respectively. The rest have no such facilities and so are the GPSs.

With strategic use of computer bases learning tools, educational institutions can provide the supportive productive environment teachers need to reach, teach, and support each student’s learning needs and potential. But KP’s provincial assembly was informed last year that around 2000 GHSs and GHSSs in KP lacked computer labs and 4,500 computer teachers were needed.

According to the report, 3.93 million students study in 27975 functional government schools with 2.84 million in GPSs, 0.76mn in GMSs, 0.29mn in GHSs and 0.041mn in GHSSs across the province. 1.51mn students also read in 6743 non-govt schools here. Most of the 119274 teachers in government schools are male (78172) but female teachers in private schools account for 44466 off 85325 teachers.

The teacher-student ratio in GPSs is 1:39 and secondary schools level is 1:23 but it is much greater in some schools. The report shows that 1175 male and 1450 female GPSs have only a teacher to teach all the classes and the students-teachers ratio for these schools is 1:58 and 1:61 respectively. 344 male and 103 female primary schools have no rooms to shelter students.

10318 off the total primary schools have two rooms and two teachers, obviously short of what is required.

Though females account for over 50 per cent of population here, girls schools make up 36 per cent of all the schools but their share further comes down to 33 per cent at high and higher secondary levels.

According to a report in The News in 2009, out of total of 4338 and 2609 rooms in all schools in Mardan, as many as 713 rooms in boys’ schools and 399 in the female ones needed major repairs. The recent report says 480 rooms in male schools and 211 rooms still await major repair.

Overall Net Enrolment Ratio at primary level is 48 percent (52 and 44 percent for male and female schools) but it is at 28 per cent (33 and 21 per cent for boys and girls) in all middle to higher schools of the province.

While enrolment overall increased by around 23.9 per cent in the last 10 years (2003 to 2012), increase in teachers and functional schools was recorded at 15.7 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively. Annual growth in the three was also disproportionate at 2.66, 1.75 and 0.86 per cent in that order. However girls’ enrolment grew by 3 times against boys’.

During 2011 and 2012, the dropout rate for the stages from 5th to 9th grade has been recorded at 16, 9, 7, 14 and 16 per cent for boys. For the girls, it has been recorded at 24, 9, 8, 21 and 8 per cent in that order.

But dropout rate could be higher if we analyse the data intently. The date reveals 0.519mn students were admitted in the prep class in GPSs across the province in 2003-04. By 2008-09, when the students reached the 5th grade, their number stood at 0.29mn which means around 50 per cent of them dropped out. By 2012, only 0.16mn students of these are recorded the 9th grade.

If not for the huge dropout and the spread of private education networks, the existing number of schools would hardly have accommodated all the students of the preceding stages. Are these two phenomena blessings in disguise for the planners?

Thought dropout in GHSSs has not been ascertained in the report, it must have considerably decreased ( Correction: increased) as both total male and female enrolment has been recorded at 41000 in last year for both first and second year.

The report further says that 1101of the total 21972 parents-teachers councils (PTCs) in primary schools are non-functional. Similarly out of 4710 PTCs in middle and secondary schools, 192 are non-functional. The PTCs, it should be reminded, are meant for parents-teachers coordination.

The report shows that out of the sanctioned 133750 (86963 male and 46787 female) teachers, 119274 (78172 male and 41102 female) teachers work these days. It means a deficit of over 14000 teachers. Another 6992 teachers (3185 Primary and 3807 Secondary Schools teachers) will retire during the next 5 years. This, if not tackled soon, may expand teachers-students ratio and the latter’s’ woes, especially at higher secondary levels.

572 posts of male and 342 posts of female subject specialists, who teach students in grade 11 and 12 in the GHSSs, are still lying vacant, according to the report.

There is no analysis as to how many of the GHSSs in the province afford both medical and engineering classes but knowledgeable sources say most of them don’t offer courses in science and most of the disciplines in arts for shortage of the subject specialists and resources.

The sector has had received considerable amount in the provincial budgets and has been allocated Rs24bn off the total ADP of Rs118bn this year. Experts say government schools have spacious buildings and plenty of teachers but loose administration, poor monitoring mechanism, outdated curriculum, flawed examination system, overcrowded classrooms, lack of modern facilities, teachers absenteeism, outdated teaching techniques, and political interference etc are the factors responsible for the poor show of performance of the public sector schools vis-à-vis their private counterparts.School report

Education in Swat after militancy and Malala

Swatis love their schools
There is a renewed urge among the girls in Swat to get more education after the attack on Malala
By Tahir Ali

Following years of virtual militants’ sway, destruction of hundreds of schools, target killings and especially the October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai, outsiders think of Swat as a place where female education has become a very difficult and risky enterprise. But apparently these incidents have further ignited the love for knowledge in the resilient Swatis.

According to a social worker in Madyan, who wished anonymity, there are no mentionable hurdles in the education sector but students and teachers somehow feel threatened. “There is a general perception that schools may be attacked, though there is no apparent threat. This fear is evident from the fact that NGOs have been asked to share their data/plans with authorities for security reasons. Polio workers are escorted by the police,” he says.

On October 15 last year, when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government named the Government Girls Degree College, Saidu Sharif in Swat after Malala, the students of the college campaigned against it until the decision was withdrawn. Locals say they were not against Malala but they thought that associating her name with the college would make them susceptible to militants.

Dilawar Khan, an educationist in Mingora, Swat, sees no visible impact on the enrolment of students. “It has rather increased after the incident. As far as opposition to the renaming of college after Malala is concerned, it was pushed by some political elements and personal vendetta with her and her father rather than by security perception.”

Afzal Khan Lala, the famous local nationalist leader from Matta who remained in his hometown despite persistent attacks on him, seconded his thoughts.

“Swat already had good literacy rate irrespective of gender. In fact, the recognition and awards Malala received, has increased the urge for education and excellence among students. Malala was attacked for her advocacy for female education and for opposing the anti-knowledge agenda of militants. The opposition to naming a college after Malala was brought about by prejudice against her achievements and fear of becoming a target of militants,” he says.

According to Aftab Alam Advocate and ex-president Swat Bar Association, female education has got a fillip in post-militancy/Malala attack situation in Swat. “Her worldwide acclaim has encouraged other girls. It will not be out of place to point out that for the first time in Swat’s history, four female lawyers have been inducted in our fraternity and more such aspirants are in the pipeline,” he says.

“Swatis love books, schools and peace. Every visitor to the area will testify that Swatis are tolerant and progressive people and have nothing to do with militancy,” says a local, Tahir Shah.

Alam too cited jealousy, political considerations of some locals and fear of attack by militants on the college as reasons for opposing Malala college.

“The importance of girls’ education cannot be emphasised. There goes a saying “Mard paray, fard paray but zan paray tu watan paray (if a male reads, it is as if an individual reads but when a woman studies, it is as if a country reads), says Alam.

Nasir Khan, another Swat resident, says these factors had positive impact and rather boosted the morale and vision of the female students in the area. “There was some fear initially but now things have become normal. The students opposed renaming of the college because that would have made them potential target of militants,” he said.

The district education officer (female) Swat Dilshad Begum also says Malala is the pride of the area and has motivated others. “There is a renewed urge to get more education. The government has made education free up to the secondary level and is providing free books to students and stipends to girls. The KP government has given plenty of monetary benefits and incentives to all cadres of teachers. We are motivating and preparing them for the task through refresher courses. There cannot be a better opportunity. They should now ensure quality education to their students,” she says.

The strength of students has increased. “From 74904 female students in Swat in 2009, the number increased to around 118594 students in 2011. Data for this year is being finalised and it says that the female enrolment has gone up.”

There has been no security threat to any school of late. “The government has provided police officials where needed. Again, it has asked all the headmasters and principals of the schools to prepare special entry passes for all girl students. A teacher will be deputed to allow students into the schools after checking their cards,” she added.

Swat already had a good literacy rate for both boys and girls. The former ruler of Swat, Miangul Abdul Wadood, had opened a chain of schools for girls. But during their peak days, the Taliban first asked girls to observe strict purdah (veil) on their way to school. Later, they banned girl education and ordered girls’ schools to be shut down by January 15, 2009, and threatened to attack the students and teachers who didn’t follow the edict.

The Taliban had started their anti-girls education campaign in 2003 which continued for the next four years. They would announce and eulogise the female students on radio who gave up studying. So convincing was their appeal for the naive girls that in 2004, more than 200 girls of high school Charbagh asked for school leaving certificates and tore them there.

In May 2008, the Kabal GGHSS was the first school to be destroyed. With that began a trend that saw the destruction of over 400 schools in Swat. 217 of these were girls’ schools. 124 were fully destroyed and 93 of them were partially damaged. As of now 270 schools are fully or partially destroyed, Dilshad Begum informs. Even though the Swat of 2012 is way different from what it was in 2009, still with the militants saying they will continue their campaign, there is no room for complacency within the government circles.


…………………….

ORIGINAL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE AS IT WAS SENT OT THE NEWS.

Female education in Swat after Malala incident – situational analysis of past and present

By Tahir Ali

Following years of virtual militants’ sway, destruction of hundreds of schools, target killings and the October 9 attack on Malala Yousafzai there, outsiders think of Swat as a place where female education has become very a difficult and risky enterprise. But locals and officials say none have negatively impacted it and these have further ignited the love for knowledge in the benign but resilient Swatis, the fear of the hidden enemy and their attacks notwithstanding.

According to a social worker in Madyan, who wished anonymity, there were no mentionable hitches in the education sector but students and teachers somehow felt threatened. “There is a general perception that the school may be attacked though there is no apparent threat. This fear is evident from the fact that NGOs have been asked to share their data/plans with authorities for security reasons. Polio workers are escorted by the police,” he said.

On October 15 last year, when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government named the Government Girls Degree College, Saidu Sharif in Swat after Malala, the students of the college campaigned against it until the decision was withdrawn. Locals say they were not against Malala but they thought that associating her name with the college would make them susceptible to militants.

Dilawar Khan, an educationist in Mingora Swat, said there had been no negative effect of attack on Malala on the enrolment of students. “It has rather increased after the incident. As far opposition to the renaming of college after Malala, it was pushed by some political elements and personal vendetta with her and her father rather than by security perception.”

Afzal Khan Lala, the famous local nationalist leader from Matta who remained in his hometown despite persistent attacks on him, seconded his thoughts.

“Swat already had good literacy ratio for both girls and boys. In fact the recognition and awards Malala received, boosted the urge for education and excellence on part of other students. Malala was attacked for her advocacy for female education and opposing the anti-knowledge agenda of militants. The opposition to Malala’s college was brought about by prejudice with her achievements and fear of becoming target of militants,” he said.

According to Aftab Alam Advocate, Ex-president Swat Bar Association, female education has got a fillip in post-militancy/Malala attack situation in Swat. “Her worldwide acclaim encouraged other girls. It will not be out of place to point out that for the first time in Swat history, 4 female lawyers have been inducted in our fraternity and more such aspirants are in the pipeline,” he said

“Swatis love books, schools and peace. Every visitor to the area will testify that Swatis are tolerant and progressive people and have nothing to do with militancy,” said a local, Tahir Shah.

Alam too cited jealousy, political considerations of some locals and fear of attack by militants’ attack on the college as reasons for opposing Malala college.

“The importance of girls’ education cannot be emphasized. There goes a saying “Mard paray, fard paray but zan paray tu watan paray (if a male reads, it is as if an individual reads but when a woman studies, it is as if a country reads). The more there is investment on female education, the better for humanity and the country. For this more schools, more resources like playground, laboratories, teachers) be provided in Swat, Malakand division and elsewhere,” he added.

Nasir Khan, another Swat resident, said these factors had positive impacts and rather boosted the morale and vision of the female students in the area. “There was some fear initially but now things have become normal. The students opposed the college renaming for that would have made them potential target for militants,” he said.

The district education officer (female) Swat Dilshad Begum also said Malala was a pride for the area and has motivated others. “There is a renewed urge to get more education on their part. The government has made education free up to the secondary level and providing free books to students and stipends to girls. All cadres of teachers have been given plenty of monetary benefits, incentives and up-gradation by the KP government. We are motivating and preparing them for the task through refresher courses. There cannot be a better opportunity. They should now ensure quality education to their students,” she said.

She said the strength of students has increased. “Against around 74904 female students in Swat in 2009, there were around 118594 students here in 2011. Data has been collected for this year and is being finalised according to which female enrolment has gone up.”

Talking about security threats and measures, she said there had been no security threats to any schools of late. “The government has provided police officials where needed. Again, it has asked all the head masters and principals of the schools to prepare special entry passes for all girls’ students. A teacher will be deputed to let allow students into the schools after checking their cards,” she added.

There are 507 primary, 55 middle, 27 high and 5 GHSSs in the public sector in Swat where around 118594 female students are taught by 2595 teachers. Of these, 96631 are primary students who are taught by 1845 teachers where the students- teacher ratio stands of 53:1 per cent against the required 40:1 in the province.

“We need more teachers to be able to provide education to the locals at their doorstep. We need some resources (vehicles etc) to improve teachers’ accessibility to schools on some routes. There are no high schools in some areas. Through the KP government’s Rokhana Pakhtunkhwa scheme, students in some areas are being financed by government for their education in some reputable private schools but we need more schools in certain areas. Besides, there are no IT teachers in our schools. Some other schools lack laboratories or equipments therein,” Dilshad Begum said.

Destruction and reconstruction of female schools

Swat enjoys good literacy rate for both boys and girls. Even the former ruler of Swat Miangul Abdul Wadood, had opened a chain of schools for females. But during their peak days, Taliban first asked girls students to observe strict purdah (veil) when they go to school. Later they banned girl education and ordered the girls schools to be shut down by January 15, 2009 and threatened to attack the students and teachers who didn’t follow the edict.

How the female students were psychologically hit by the order is evident form one of Malala diaries, she wrote for BBC, on January 3, 2009. She writes: “On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”

The Taliban had started their anti-girls education campaign in 2003 which continued for next four years. They would announce and eulogise the female students on radio who gave up studying. So convincing was their appeal for the naive girls that in 2004, more than 200 girls of high school Charbagh asked for school leaving certificates and tore them there.

In May 2008, the Kabal GGHSS was the first school to be destroyed. With that began a trend that saw the destruction of over 400 schools in Swat. 217 of these were girls’ schools. 124 of these were fully and 93 of them were partially damaged. As of now 270 schools are fully or partially destroyed, Dilshad Begum informed.

Girls’ schools in backward and remote areas in Tehsil Kabal, Matta and other areas across the Swat River especially received the brunt of attacks. Shamozai, Koza Bandai, Khwazakhela, Sheen and Kharriri etc were other affected areas. Urban areas remained mostly safe then though they also saw destruction of some schools later.

“Hundreds of schools were destroyed by militants in Swat. They dynamited the buildings thereby depriving the students of education and light. The government girls’ higher secondary school (GGHHS) in our village was the only school that remained safe because the community protected it day and night. But the militants dynamited the boys’ school there which we didn’t expect as they were only after girls’ schools then,” Lala recalled.

“The destruction would have rendered their students uneducated for long. However the government opened schools in rented buildings, tents, and makeshift homes. In the meanwhile, the Pakistan army and the provincial reconstruction, rehabilitation and settlement authority started rebuilding the schools with support from Qatar Charity, UAE, EU, USAID and the like. Most of them have been reconstructed and rehabilitated. Only 33 remain to be reconstructed as of now,” Dilshad begum informed.

It could not be ascertained as to whether any girls’ schools are being used for residential purposes by the security forces or not.

Even though the Swat of 2012 is way different from it was in 2009. But with militants saying they will continue their campaign, there is no room for complacency within the government circles as it can encourage them to expand their hit and run campaign.

On Malala

Malala Yousafzai, the Swati teenager rose to glory after she wrote daily diaries for the BBC website with the pen-name of Gul Makai. She was later adjudged The Daughter of Pakistan by the National Assembly and has earned several fascinating distinctions that filled others with envy: She won Pakistan’s first peace award; was the Herald’s, person of the year; was nominated for International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011; was awarded the 2012 Tipperary International Peace Award from Ireland, which was awarded to Benazir Bhutto in 2007 as well; she stood at number 6, ahead of Obama amongst Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 influential world thinkers; she was named ‘Young Person of the Year’ by The Times; a bill has been introduced in US Congress that seeks Congressional Gold Medal for Malala; She is suggested as candidate for the Noble Peace Prize; the list continues to expand.

On December 10 last year, President Asif Ali Zardari Monday announced a 10-million-dollar donation for the “Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education” which will ensure that all girls go to school by 2015 in line with UN Millennium goals.

According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report released by UNESCO, Pakistan has around 5.1 million out of school children, the second highest worldwide, with 63 percent of these girls.

Cheating in the examinations

Cheating their way to success

 

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2011-weekly/nos-14-08-2011/pol1.htm#1

Use of unfair means in examinations need to be strictly checked to improve credibility and standard of education
By Tahir Ali

Examination results show the ability and capability of students, teachers and institutions. Good results ensure admission to reputable institutions and eventual success in life. The problem of cheating during examinations has rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable. What is more dangerous is that some students think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre have to confront pressure during examinations, ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow cheating to political pressure, and attacks and death threats from student groups. All these pressures are aimed at one thing – to allow students use of unfair means to get good grades.

These allegations of corruption are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are maneuvered with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The National Accountability Bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared. Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their child’s future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference, etc, are some of the problems in this regard,” the document says.

According to a senior educationist, who wishes anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for invigilators for examination duties is another problem.

“Daily remuneration of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendent (grade 16 or 17) and superintendent (grade 17-18) respectively gets them around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier, it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he says.

The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold. “Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this backdrop of meager remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators do not perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he says.

Examination centres also face paucity of space. The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints in the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult and makes inter-students communication and copying easy, especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then, in some cases, megaphones are also used by outsiders to help candidates answer the questions.

Number of staff is also a problem. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students, which makes his or her task very difficult.

In some papers, where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendents are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedures to take sanction for extra staff and then no one is ready to do the duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters on a written complaint from the superintendents, by canceling the concerned paper(s) or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at cases. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also point out that if students resort to hooliganism, it is the examiners who are accused of not using ways to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

All the stakeholders in the examination system – students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices will have to make efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires a three-pronged strategy to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination. Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise notes at home. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance. Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counseling students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on a quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit. Interference by outsiders can be prevented by police personnel and daily visits of inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns in the print and electronic media and through functions and lectures, people should be convinced of the repercussions of using unfair-means in a students’ career.

“Complete dependence on external examination in total disregard to internal examination for final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system, which takes into account the results shown by students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

 

Following is the original text of the article as sent to the paper.

 

Arresting cheating in examinations

By Tahir Ali

It is examination season in the country. Examination results are the yardsticks of students, teachers and institutions ability and good results in it ensure admission in reputable institutions and eventual success in life. But the problem of malpractices during the examination has not only rendered Pakistan’s examination system and its results invalid and unreliable but what is more dangerous is that students are beginning to think of it as their right.

The superintendent and other invigilators at a given examination centre, have to confront several pressures and enticements during the examinations. Ranging from requests by friends and family members to allow malpractices to offers for money to political and social pressures and attacks and death threats from students’ groups, the students, their parents, teachers and institutions try their best to get undue advantage from them during the examination papers.

All these efforts, offers and pressures are aimed at one thing- to allow students the use of unfair means to earn good grades.

These allegations of corruption and malpractices are not restricted to the invigilating staff. There are complaints that invigilating staff of choice is got appointed at the boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs), papers are leaked and even better grades are manoeuvred with the help of BISEs staff and marking/checking personnel there, charges which are denied by BISE officials.

The national accountability bureau in collaboration with BISEs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently organised a seminar on the issue where a strategy against the same was prepared.

Cheating in the board examinations, in one way or the other, is in the knowledge of all and everyone wants to correct the situation, states an official document prepared by a local BISE.

“Parents’ obsession with their children future, private education sector’s efforts to ensure good grades for their candidates, lack of required facilities, non availability of sufficient teachers, books and material in schools, paucity of female teachers and invigilators, absence of criteria for and favouritism in teachers’ selection for examination duties both at the department and the board levels, political interference and pressures by the teachers unions are some of the problems in this regard,” it says.

According to a senior educationist, who wished anonymity, negligible remuneration and daily allowance for the invigilators for the examination duties is exacerbating the phenomenon.

“Daily remuneration (tea, meal expenses) of Rs25, Rs37 and Rs60 for common invigilators, the deputy superintendant (grade 16 or 17) and superintendant (grade 17-18) respectively gets them a around Rs225, Rs700 and Rs1080 for the full duration of the examination. Teachers also get a daily allowance of Rs280 and Rs500 respectively in the same order which is being given at this rate for years now. Earlier it was given on the basis of running basic pay but now at lump-sum basis. Then there are mostly two papers a day but there is no extra remuneration or daily allowance for them for the double paper,” he said.

“The remuneration has remained unchanged for years though examination fees and prices have been increased manifold.  Do the board members, chairman, secretaries, controllers and the other officers at the BISEs draw the same level of remuneration and daily allowances for their examination related duties? It is not unnatural if, in this back-drop of meagre remuneration by the BISEs, invigilators hardly resist the offers provided by the institutions and parents of candidates and if they don’t perform their duties on merit and impartially,” he questioned.

According to another public school teacher, examination centres also face paucity of space. “The students are to be seated at four meters distance from each other but it is hardly practised for space constraints at the halls. Congested seating, resorted primarily to accommodate the students for shortage of space, makes supervision difficult, renders inter-students communication and copying easy and makes time miserable for students and the staff especially when there is frequent power shutdown in the summer, the examination season in the country,” he opined.

Students usually use mobile phones for unfair means in the examination. Despite warnings from the staff, they bring mobile set(s) along with them. Invigilators ask them to switch their sets off but they usually dodge. Then megaphones are also used by outsiders to help the candidates answer the questions.

Staff paucity problem is also there. An invigilator is appointed for 40 students. Though an extra invigilator is allowed for 11 more students but if there are less than 11 students, one invigilator may have to supervise upto 50 students. Is it possible?

In some papers where the number of students increases from average (on the basis of which the staff is appointed) the superintendants are allowed to appoint extra invigilators but they usually avoid doing so as it requires lengthy procedure to take the sanction for the extra staff and then no one is ready to do duty for a day or two.

The boards can punish the cheaters, on a written complaint from the superintendents, by cancelling the concerned paper(s)/examination or ban him/her for a few years from taking examination. But the examiners usually avoid so for three reasons: One, to avoid the lengthy paperwork required to prepare a tenable unfair-means case; two, this can ruin the victim’s future beyond repair; and three, students often react violently at UFM cases and even fire at the staff. Recently, a local BISE’s controller of examinations narrowly escaped an attempt on his life.

Some invigilators also pointed out that, if students resort to hooliganism anywhere for strictness of the invigilating staff and any untoward incident happens as a result, it is the examiners who are accused of not knowing/using the tactics to avoid such incidents. What this practically means is clear: allow the cheaters if stopping them can create problems.

How to tackle the problem

All the stake-holders in the examination system- students, their parents, teachers, schools and BISEs, who are responsible, though in varying degrees, for rampant malpractices, will have to make concerted/joint efforts to stop or minimise this scourge.

It requires three-pronged strategies to guard against cheating in examination: before, during and after the examination.

Teachers and students need to fully commit themselves to teaching/learning process. Students should revise the work at homes. Schools with hostel facility usually show better performance.

Competitive environment in classes and a proper mechanism for guidance and counselling of the students are also needed in schools.

To improve teaching at schools, a system of reward and punishment for teachers should be introduced in schools. The performance report of all teachers for this purpose should be prepared on quarterly basis by the departmental inspection teams from lower classes, rather than on annual basis and at Matric or intermediate levels as these days.

Increase in remuneration and daily allowances of the staff and then appointment of honest invigilators should be ensured. This can be easily done by computerising the record and the process of invigilation staff selection. The education department should forward the lists.

Teachers’ unions should not be allowed to interfere in the examination. Ruling political parties will have to take initiative by disowning their political wings in teachers and let the board administrators decide things on merit.

Interference by outsiders can be prevented by enough strength of police personnel and daily visits of resident inspectors to the examination centre. Moreover, fully enclosed examination halls could also help overcome the problem.

Through awareness campaigns on print and electronic media and through functions and lectures by social, political and religious celebrities, people should be convinced of the repercussions of the unfair-means for the students’ careers. Obviously, when children know that their parents can go to any limit to get them pass, why would they work hard after that?

“Malpractices in the examinations could be minimised by reducing the weightage of external examination. The present complete dependence on the external examination in total disregard of the internal examination for the final result of the students is flawed. A comprehensive testing system which takes into account the results shown by the students in both the internal examination conducted by his institution and external one by BISEs besides taking other aspects of his performance and character, apart from the written one, will greatly minimise corruption in the examination,” adds the educationist.

(tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

 

Dr Zahoor Ahmad Awan

Radical musings
DAWN November 7, 2010
By Tahir Ali
http://public.dawn.com/2010/11/07/radical-musings.html

He may initially come across as a blunt and impolite sort but spending a little time talking to the man changes your first impression about Prof Dr Zahoor Ahmad Awan.
A proud recipient of the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, he has won many laurels as an academician, writer, critique, columnist, traveller and human rights activist. Having started his writing career as a freelancer during the 1970s, he contributed weekly literary columns and features to various newspapers and publications and has since then written thousands of columns while authoring over 70 books, travelogues and literary works in Urdu, English and Hindko.

Born in 1942 to a poor family, he is proud of how he shaped his life. “I have faced many hardships working at bicycle repair and bookbinding shops during my school days. But I knew how to avail the opportunities coming my way. Not everyone knows how to do that,” he tells.

“God gave me a pen and I tried to make good use of it. I was not a bright student but I did my PhD in Central Asian Studies from the Area Study Centre at Peshawar University. Other than serving as a university professor, I was also the senior-most member of the Public Service Commission, a life member of the Academy of Letters, a member of board of governors of National Language Authority, chairman of the Gandhara Hindko Board … you will require several pages to include all my achievements,” says the educationist who now after his retirement teaches at the Peshawar and Qurtaba universities for free.

Analysing the country’s education system, he says that the lack of planning and its rigorous implementation have spoiled many educational endeavours. “Our universities are producing a mass of good-for-nothing and half-baked educated persons without any purpose and planning. Our students seek degrees, not knowledge. The government may be increasing the number of colleges and universities but is neglectful of the worsening standard of education in the country. No Pakistani university is therefore seen in the top 1,000 universities of the world.

“Lack of funding is also a problem. Whereas the UNO standard requires allocation of at least four per cent of the GDP for education, our educational budget has never crossed two per cent,” he laments. “The educational budget should be brought at par with the international standard. I know this is a tough task but we should at least start our journey by taking the first step in the direction by allocating a minimum of Rs100 billion to education in the next fiscal year,” he says.

His other suggestions for improvement are: “English should be made a medium of instruction from day one. The colleges should have a PhD faculty. The student-teacher ratio should be brought down to 15:1 [right now it is over 40 or even higher]. Basic education should be made free and compulsory and parents should be punished in case of non-compliance. University professors should be limited to research endeavours.”

He adds: “Universities should be research centres only and must never be allowed to conduct graduate or post-graduate examinations. The teachers, too, should be given special packages. I think post-graduate primary teachers deserve better remuneration and should be given grade 17 as against the present grades of seven to 2. They should be offered refresher courses, too.”

The students he advises to study the text and supplementary books instead of making do with notes and guides prepared by teachers. Sports, too, need to be given their due status in educational institutions.

The professor has travelled all over the world to attend national and international seminars. He has also delivered lectures at the University of Germany. He ascribes the progress of the developed countries to their hard work, integrity, rule of law, education, equality, discipline and justice. “We, conversely, have no such values.

Pakistanis are a genius lot but we have mostly misused our intelligence,” he says.

He hates the existing style of governance in the country and points towards the lack of education and training of citizens, corruption, weak institutions, feudalism and hereditary system in parties to have hampered the development of the democratic norms here.

His solution for improvement: “Peace, development, education and financial freedom are the fundamental strategies for the purpose. Pakistan should get into dialogue with India to have the Kashmir problem solved once and for all. Both India and Pakistan just can’t afford to spend that much on security. A resolution of the problem would help transform Pakistan into a true welfare state from a police state which is what it is now. I think the state should not leave big income disparities and concentration of wealth in a few hands. I believe in nationalisation and am against ownerships and private property for everything here truly belongs to God.”

He has given everything to humanity as a common heritage, and not as a gift to few oligarchs or aristocrats. God forbids injustice, inequality and exploitation,” he concludes.

Interviews of Dr Farooq Khan

I had interviewed Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan on a number of occasions.

Here is his the link to the interview which was published in The News  in 2008.

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2008-weekly/nos-10-08-2008/pol1.htm#3
Here is another interview with him in which he severely criticises the militants.

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2009-weekly/nos-13-12-2009/dia.htm#2

He also spoke on the IDP’s phenomenon.

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/sep2009-weekly/nos-27-09-2009/spr.htm#5

He also spoke on different education topics:

Dealing with students’ failures:

http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1086516&currPageNo=1&query&search&term&supDate

The curriculum issue:

http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1060283&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=

http://www.brecorder.com/index.php?id=1051642&currPageNo=1&query=&search=&term=&supDate=

and scores of other topics.

Teachers’ visits to students’ homes

Home visits by teachers

By Tahir Ali

Attaullah always took keen interest in his studies. He was regular in class and was popular in fellow students as well as teachers. But then he bagged inconsiderable marks in his 10th grade examination. He felt alienated by the treatment of his father over his poor result. He was remorseful for wasting his time. Life lost all charms for him. Dejected and enraged at himself, he indulged himself in activities that were detrimental to his time, studies and goals. He thought it was all over for him. But then a teacher visited his home a few times and talked to him and his parents.

“Reflect on your habits, priorities and activities. Think as to which were the things that distracted you from studies and wasted your time. Also know about the things and habits that had proved useful during any stage of your academic career. Avoid the distractions and follow the plus points…..,” he told him.

That lifted his spirits. Attaullah started working with a new zeal and commitment. Later, he won two gold medals in his career.

The above story illustrates that a hardworking, committed and friendly teacher can transform a student’s life. There can be tremendous interest in this home-visiting model provided these are carefully planned and effectively executed. These have the potential to improve low performing schools and provide an opportunity to build relationships with families that go a long way towards success of educational endeavours.

Though teachers’ visits to students’ homes usually follow problematic student behaviour or an urge on part of the school and teacher to ensure success of the students, an interested and committed teacher can spot pretty early on which are the students who might face some challenges and problems needing intervention and guidance.

Teachers’ visits can turn around weak students and schools. They give personal touch to the teacher-student relationship and create a sense of importance and confidence amongst students. They not only help build good inter teacher-students relationship and love but also give good information about the likes, dislikes, weaknesses and strong points of the students and teachers, which are crucial for educating the children satisfactorily. Poor performing children can excel with compassion, kindness, and some one-on-one help.

Educational experts say students do better if teachers, schools and students and their families act in unison. Our teachers need to come out of their ivory towers and be more friendly and close to their students and their parents if we hope for a better learning environment at schools.

Teachers may be lacking vital information about their students, and meaningful opportunity on part of the teachers to engage with their students and their families can solve the problem.

These visits and conversations not only help build a relationship with the parents and congeal one with their children, they also can create many other possibilities. For example, the teacher learns a ‘funds of knowledge’ from the parents and gets an insight about the prevailing situation at students’ homes, about students’ peer group, his neighbourhood behaviour and the way he deals with the situation.

Even though well-intended, these visits have both the potential to become a source of strength as well as trouble for the students and teachers. For example, there is the problem of reluctance on part of the teachers, especially female ones, and resistance on part of the parents towards this phenomenon.

Educators don’t want to be unwarranted guests and female teachers especially feel vulnerable to visit the homes of their adult students. Though parents usually like to be contacted for their children, sometimes they too resist these visits as encroachment and interference.

So, the visits should not be made mandatory for teachers, students or families. What then is to be done to make all these go for this highly beneficial practice: Teachers and educational administrators should be given financial and professional benefit for each visit they make. Parents and their studying children should receive stipend and educational credits on these visits respectively.

These incentives, rewards and chastisement and conditional cash transfers for teachers, parents, and schools will help foster friendly environment at the visits. We also need to ensure that training and a respectful structure is provided, and that visits don’t just target troubled students.

One important reason for the success of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, a successful project run by teachers’ union, school district, and a community group run in parts of USA since 1988, is that teachers are compensated for their time if they choose to participate voluntarily

The main problem is where will the funds come from and who would organise, supervise and evaluate the work of these bodies.

The thousands of Parents Teacher Councils (PTCs) functioning in public sector schools could make the task of organising, supervision and evaluation quite easier. Over and above, the national commission for human development (NCHD), that has huge budget with little practical impact, cannot find worthier business to pursue.  

Good communities create the foundation for great schools. In transforming public schools into the hubs of their communities, teachers and principals should play lead roles, supported by mentors, counsellors, media personnel and media outlets.

As far the funds, the government may allocate some funds for the project. If not, then the funds available with the NCHD and PTCs –the latter are given considerable funds for repair and maintenance of schools each year0- could be utilised. Similarly, grants and donations by public and private sector and by local or foreign NGOs could be used to fund these kinds of visits.

There should be no problem of resources. Various foreign bodies such as USAID, UNESCO and the like or the funds available with the NCHD could be utilised for the purpose. Anyway they are worth investment, because home visits can have far-reaching effects.

Besides, the project can be easily carried out by graduate teachers, especially female ones who are naturally more sublime and careful in dealing with students. It doesn’t require a psychological expert to do this as almost each working teacher is an expert in public dealing. However, for making and maintaining track-record of the meetings and findings of these visits and implementation and effects of these findings certainly warrant a short training. This can be done by plentiful public or private colleges, universities or the provincial and regional training institutes in the country.

Writer email: tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Dealing with Students’ failures

Dealing with students’ failure
TAHIR ALI

WEEKEND MAGAZINE (July 31 2010): Result of the examination is one of the biggest yardsticks for judging the ability or otherwise of a student, teacher or institution. The occupational and educational excellence of an individual and institution is judged from high grades and good results in examinations. The more the frequency of upper grades in educational career, the more chances of getting a coveted job.

And the worse the result, the bleaker the future of the concerned student and college. That’s why, as a student, you always try to out-perform others, in the studies, so that you could reserve a place for the job of your dreams and a lifetime of happiness. You must set a high standard, your parents and peers tell you, because you have to compete with the world. There is no room for failure for you. And that’s why parents, siblings, teachers and institutions urge students to excel others in marks. Parents want their children to be trophy children. Siblings like and pride themselves as good achievers. Teachers also expect them to add glory to the school. School like/attract the talented students and reject/expel ones with poor memory/performance. Students are pushed from all sides to be the leaders.

Weaker and failed ones are disliked, ridiculed, neglected and maltreated. Derogatory remarks and nick names by siblings, friends and teachers are a common pattern of behaviour towards them. Their needs, problems, aptitudes and limitations are neglected but expectations from them are above their capabilities. The learners, as a result, are burdened and often overloaded beyond their capacities. So, they have to over strain themselves to fulfil the high ambitions of their families. They develop psychological disorders and may even become recluse and temperamental. They also grow an acute test-anxiety that invariably entails mental and psychological problems in most of the cases. This may even compel them to commit suicide.

The behaviour of parents, peers and siblings towards them is also characterised by extreme positions. They are either too lenient or stern. They neglect or give even undue support in examinations. They leave them to their own choice or overload them. Parental attention and co-operation proves beneficial and improves overall performance. But parents also spoil children by seeking sefarish or trying for unfair means in their examinations.

Attaullah was a student of class 8. His father threatened him of dire consequences and even asked him not to come home in case he fails. Unluckily for him, he failed. He fled from home but didn’t know where to go. However, he reached Kohat and worked with a local diary-farmer as animal-attendant. He remained there for four months. Back home, the entire family underwent mental agony during the time. Their ordeals eventually came to a finish when a villager spotted him grazing the cattle there, informed his family and he was brought home.

According to Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan, a psychiatrist and well known scholar, the common behaviour of parents towards failed students ranges from aggression to dereliction and from indifference to derision. “Parents’ initial response to the news is that of shock and denial – they are shocked to know but tend to believe that their children may have been unjustly failed. After that, when emotions subside and they begin analysing the situation, their aggression turns towards the children. This aggression may take the form of physical or mental torture or both. Intelligent and clever parents console and support their children in this hour of need. Some may even show indifference or negligence towards them. Again, many a time, their obsession with the children’s future and love for them can push them to give undue support- for example, they can try to use unfair means for their success,” says Dr Farooq.

He opines that parents are under increasing pressure to see that their children are high achievers. “Our cultural values have changed. Love for money, materialism, and prestige matters now more than anything else. Parents spend huge sums on their children in expensive schools, on their home-tuitions and other expenditures and they want to get the fruit. They fancy their ambitions fulfilled through their children. When a child fails, they react harshly to the news. This behaviour may even prove disastrous for the child and may expose him/her to inferiority complex but it is quite natural.”

He also points out that there is a huge difference in the way illiterate, poor and rural parents and their educated, rich and urban counterparts behave towards failed children. “The former by and large behave positively while the latter’s behaviour demolish their confidence,” claims Dr Farooq Khan.

The behaviour patterns of teachers relating to the failed students vary. Few teachers show indifferent attitude towards failed students; fewer give individual attention; most display unwarranted aggression and pass insulting remarks against their personality; hardly a few support and guide them the right way; and many urge them to give up studies and start doing some other ‘profitable’ work/job.

Students also say their teachers tell them to do well or leave the school. In public sector schools where there is no robust system for supervision upon the teachers, some teachers declare the failed students as ‘Raja’ or ‘prince’ and completely ignore them – these students are neither questioned nor is their homework checked for they ‘don’t/can’t understand’.

Plato, the great Greek philosopher, thinks that child is like a plant, which if properly nurtured must necessarily grow into all virtue and if planted in alien soil becomes the most obnoxious of all seeds. A hardworking, committed and friendly teacher can totally transform a student’s life and vice-versa. Dictatorial and unfriendly Teachers’ attitude proves harmful because it associates the latter with hatred and affects the tender atmosphere in the class, a must for successful learning. Individual attention by teachers towards weaker students is a sine-qua-non. “Some students who failed in English were given individual guidance and help in our school and they improved their performance as a result,” says Fazle Mabood, the principal of a high school. According to him, superior teachers like and inferior ones dislike children.

Parents mostly blame the failures of their children on the teachers. “Teachers work less in the class and have little commitment as they are in the profession not by choice but by chance. Teachers are role models for their students. When they are dull and weary themselves, what can the students learn from them? They must be knowledge-thirsty to instil a yearning for learning in their students,” remarks Khalil Khan, the father of Aiman. He holds teachers responsible for 90% of students’ failures and opines that students are punished for the wrongs of their teachers.

Tragedy and failure can become a source for prosperity and development provided right guidance is given. Tragedies and failures can push people to get to greater heights. Though failure has uplifted the spirits and performance of a few, most are overrun by morbidity that throws you into utter disappointment.

Many believe that failure system is against the principles of psychology and would like it to be wrapped up. Reminding that it is not practised in developed countries, Mohammad Haleem, a teacher, says that failure should be discarded at least up to 10th grade. He says it destroys students’ personalities and shatters their confidence. It is also pumping anti-social elements, street children, and fodder for child labour into society.

tahir_katlang@yahoo.com

Time management

COVER STORY: Making the most of your time
Time is like a block of ice. It has to melt whether you utilise it well or not, writes Tahir Ali

We often complain about not having enough time for our siblings, friends, studies, hobbies and a lot of other things. Do you know that many others also feel the same?

You see people in a hurry all the time � at home, school, on bus stop, roads and in markets. No one ever seems to have enough time to do all the things he/she wants or needs to do. Time can neither be increased nor recreated once it�s lost, and you are constantly reminded of this by your parents and teachers. So one has to take as much advantage of the time on hand as possible for it waits for no one.

So, what should one do? See, time is life and time management is, therefore, life management. You need to manage yourself, your priorities, your choices, your habits, your actions and your associations. To do so, you have to learn to organise yourself within the fixed time that you have. Time management is really about life management and self management. By adapting to time management strategies, one will get more done in less time and feel happier.

Time management improves the quality of your life and your performance. It helps one do the right thing at the right time and in the right way. And by getting the greatest benefit out of the limited time available you have, time management can help you become great achievers.

You can lead life as a leader or backbencher, the choice is yours. A philosopher once said: �There are three kinds of people in the world � those who make things happen, those who wish things would happen, and all the rest wandering in a daze, wondering what happened.�

Najamul Aleem is a classic example of a person who does not proactively manage his time and the access others have to him Most of his time was consumed by tasks handed over to him by his friends and relatives. They are using him for their own advantage and he is allowing it. What he needs to do is to be friendly towards others but never allow himself to be at the will and mercy of others.

Time bandits
There are time bandits for everyone: procrastination, distractions, friends, engagements that are of little use, exhaustion, disorder, TV, internet, phone, useless activities, etc. All are time management’s biggest enemies. Interruptions need to be dealt with assertively and decisively. Proactively regulate access to yourselves. Make sure that you are �off the air� when busy doing something important. Never allow unwarranted incursions in your time.

Do you know where does your time go? Most people do not. You must know what your biggest time consumers and/or time wasters are. Prepare a time log � a record of what you do daily. It will help you identify your priorities and biggest time wasters. It will help you organise your life. You�ll also get to know whether your time usage reflects your priorities. It is the most important element in time management.

For this purpose, study time usage. Read books, articles and biographies of punctual, effective and successful people to learn new time management skills.

Clear goals
To be successful in life you should have clear goals. Goals give direction to your activities and show what things � career, family, relationships, friends, health or anything else � are most important to you. Driving in the right direction is more important than driving fast. You need to be realistic and clear in your goals. Set time limits for long, medium and short range goals and aim to achieve something each day.

Aiman is a girl who wanted to be a doctor. But she always lacked the commitment and devotion needed for pursuing a high-profile career. Her aims were high but efforts weak. She dreamt of a bright future but wasted her time. The result was obvious � she never made it to a medical collage.

Your best shot
Give your best to everything you undertake. Stay focused on your goals. Immerse yourself in the task at hand. Reduce distractions as far as possible. If you find it difficult to remain focussed at doing something for longer chunks of time, divide your work-time in small blocks and then expand it as you get into the rhythm.

We all feel sorry for having wasted time in the past but tend to be unmindful of the present as well. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for it is the stuff life is made of.�

Take advantage of each moment at your disposal. If you travel frequently, use the planes, trains and automobiles to your advantage for studying. Avail your opportunities. You are lucky to have so many vistas opened to you. Avail the maximum benefit out of the guidance, care, time and money at your disposal. Never wait to be in a good mood to do something. Never wait for others to come and push you to work. Even if you don�t feel like doing something, just get started and soon you�ll get into the rhythm. Soon you would feel motivated. It�s a time-tested strategy and works for everyone.

Learn to schedule
Many think they cannot follow a strict schedule. Of course they can and so can you. Sometimes we just don�t know what to do. Plan the day, week or year and stick to the schedule. Spend 15 minutes daily to update your calendars, appointment books and to-do lists. Avoid multitasking (doing too many things at a time). Leave some room for entertainment, personal emergencies and for bigger priorities. Plan a reward, a celebration for yourself for completing tasks and a punishment if you fail to achieve your goals. The �carrot and stick� policy will improve your performance for sure.

Organise
Wajid is an untidy person. He is in the habit of throwing things around, so much of his time is wasted in searching for misplaced things. You should not follow his path. Organise your room and workplace so that you don�t have to look for misplaced and lost items. Have a place for everything and have everything in its place. Store your files in a neat and organised manner and label things.

Prioritise
Prioritise your choices. Know the difference between urgent and important. Do the most important or difficult task in your golden moments � when you are at your best. Some experts urge doing the least favourite and easy tasks first. It all depends on what works best for you.

Never exhaust yourself too much. Sleep for at least eight hours each day, breathe some fresh air, catch some sunshine, exercise and relax. Eat a balanced diet. Get rid of your TV addiction or at least control it. This �idiot-box� is one of our biggest time wasters.

We all face many problems in life, especially in youth. We are often repentant over what we did and grieve over the results. Dejected and angry at ourselves, we indulge in activities that are invariably detrimental to our time, studies and goals. �It�s all over for me,� we often proclaim. It never is.

A little reflection on our habits, priorities and activities and reconsideration of strategies can help. Think what it was in past that distracted you from studies and which were the things that wasted your time. Also try to know about the things and habits that proved useful during any stage of your academic life.

Avoid the distractions and make the most of your plus points, if feasible, in the new situation. You must resolve to make the best use of your available time to make up for previous deficiencies and time wastage. Start working with a new zeal and commitment and you will win.

Paramedics: Neglected, still

Neglected, still

By Tahir Ali

(The News, July11, 2010)

Paramedics play an important role in therapeutic, preventive, and rehabilitative fields in medical care in the country but they have been neglected by successive governments. They are still waiting for a uniform service structure that has been given to doctors and nurses but denied to them.

Sharafatullah Yousafzai, Senior Vice President of All Pakistan Paramedical Staff Federation (APPSF) says, “While there is Pakistan Medical and Dental Council for doctors, Pakistan Nursing Council for Nurses, and Pakistan Tib Council for hakims, etc, there should be one for paramedics. The draft for paramedics’ council was proposed and discussed initially in 1988 but it has not been presented to the parliament as yet.”

Yousafzai points out that “after a long delay, the government now wants to establish allied health professional council, and not paramedics’ council, so that doctors and nursing staff could be accommodated on administrative/decision-making posts, which is a great injustice to us.”

For lack of uniformed pay structure, paramedics work in different pay scales in different parts of the country. “For example, sanitary inspectors are working in BPS-6, BPS-12, and BPS-16 in different hospitals having the same qualification. “Paramedics are being unjustly treated. For example, in the 1960s paramedics and nurses were recruited in BS-5. Nurses are working in BS-16 and can go up to BPS-20. But paramedics still work in BPS-9 with the same or even higher qualification. While a separate directorate, council and board have been established for nurses, we have been denied all these. We are not against their benefits but wish that we are also treated at par with them,” adds Yousafzai.

“Paramedics appointed as dispensers, radiographers, operation theatre technicians, lab-technicians, dental technicians and paramedical tutors used to retire in the same pay scale till the recent past. Their service structures have been approved in the four provinces except in federal institutions, but these have not been implemented fully. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has implemented the service structure but only partially. We demand that the structure is implemented in its entirety so as to provide opportunities of promotion to paramedics upto the scale of 20,” he says.

“The female medical technicians and LHVs and male dispensers/technicians are practically running the government dispensaries in dangerous and far away rural settings,” says Yousafzai. “There are at present around 110,000 class three paramedics in the country. The strength is insufficient and it should be tripled.”

Shahid Jan Khatak, General Secretary APPSF, says the absence of council has led to a mushroom growth of substandard private paramedical institutes, irregularity in duration of courses, and absence of standardisation in curricula and examinations. “Today, when a democratic government is there, it is hoped that the council would be established by the government sooner rather than later,” hopes Khatak.

Paramedics at the federal level, however, still wait for the approval of their service structure. “The national commission for service structure of health professionals at the federal level was constituted in 2005. While its recommendations were implemented in case of doctors and nurses, those about paramedics still await implementation,” complains Khatak.

Sirajuddin Burki, Central President APPSF, says the importance of paramedical staff has tremendously increased and it is essential for them now to acquire modern education, “The paramedical staff should be provided opportunities of higher education, leading to PhD, in and outside the country so that they could improve on their performance,” says Burki.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is leading in that it has four colleges for all categories, though their standard is also on the decline for some time now. In other provinces, however, there is no such structure. The training colleges, both in public and private sector in federal area and provinces, have no uniform syllabus and have different duration of training, while those in the private sector are mostly without hospital attachment, proper teaching staff, and registration,” Burki adds. According to him, paramedics have been neglected in the projects and training meant for capacity building of health professionals while doctors and nurses benefited.

“A few years ago, around $300m were provided by the Japanese government for providing training to health professionals. At that time too, paramedics were simply ignored. The money lapsed without having been utilised,” says Burki.

Paramedics are exposed to Hepatitis B and C, cancer, tuberculosis, jaundice and other dangerous viral and infectious diseases while working in hazardous conditions in X-ray laboratories, operation theatre, emergency and wards, etc. “Doctors sign the reports prepared by the paramedics. But paramedics have been denied allowances though these are available to the nursing staff,” he adds. Akbar Ali Khoso, General Secretary APPSF Sindh, and Abdus Samad Raisani, President APPSF Balochistan, say they would continue their peaceful struggle for paramedics’ council, risk allowance, and higher education for paramedics.

The spokesman of the health ministry, Qazi Abdus Saboor, says a lot of work has been done on the issue of paramedics’ council and the service structure for federal government’s health institutions. “A summary has been prepared for it and it may be approved any time soon. All the important demands of the paramedics have been incorporated in it,” he claims.

On the issue of demanding higher education for paramedics, he says there are many such institutes working in the country that are providing education to them. But he adds that “the number is insufficient and there should be at least one paramedical institute and nursing school in each district of the country.” Saboor says risk allowance is only given to those working in emergencies and was not meant for all. “With the introduction of danger-free machines and standardised operating procedures, health hazards to health technicians have decreased considerably.”

(tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

Case for a uniform curriculum

Evolve a single system of education

TAHIR Ali

Business Recorder (May 22 2010):

The curricula of almost all kinds of schools vary. Wide disparity is seen in the system of examination and school calendar being followed by each network of schools that educates and evaluates its students in its own peculiar way. The class system of education has sharply divided the nation. It’s virtually impossible to think and hope of national cohesion and development if this situation persists. The national divide will exacerbate if the class system in education is not abolished in times to come.

All these schools promote distinct cultures and inculcate different habits and manners in their students. Students pumped into society with their divergent outlooks are sources of disarray in the country and our country is increasingly becoming a split-society with each passing day.

In an interview with this writer, Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan, a well-known scholar and social analyst, said, “We are amongst the least literate nations in the world. We have 40% literacy rate but that too is questionable by world standard. Education has never been in our priority list. No uniform system of education could be developed as yet. The country as a result has been divided in water-tight compartments.” Indeed it is.

So what should be done to correct the situation?

Curriculum, according to an expert, is all learning, which is planned and guided by school, whether carried on in groups or individually and whether inside or outside the school. It is the path through which a nation tries to achieve its educational objectives. It is rightly regarded as the heart of educational process as it provides direction and rationality to the educational endeavours. Curriculum must be planned and implemented in a way that ensures the harmonious and comprehensive development of students and society. It must reflect and cater to the philosophical, psychological, social and economic realities and needs of the time and society. It should be updated and made relevant to the needs and demands of modern age; to cope with the world of work; it should be more student-oriented than being teacher-centred; it should be more research-oriented; and more practical than being theoretical as at present.

Every society, state and nation develop a particular type of curriculum for its educational system that is best suited to its needs and ideology of life. The curricula of an agrarian and industrial society invariably differ. So do those of the communist and capitalist ones as well as of secular and religious societies.

Pakistan, faced with problems created by regional, sectarian, extremist and linguistic tendencies, must introduce a curriculum that could strengthen national cohesion, promote moderation and modernisation and inculcate the spirit of tolerance in the future generation of Pakistan.

Learning from others

We should learn from the experiences of the other countries. Developed countries around the world have established uniform system of education. USA and Britain have done the same and reached to new heights.

In the Republic of Korea, there is a strongly prescribed national curriculum and all its details are determined by the Ministry of Education (MOE). In Japan too, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture prescribes guidelines for curriculum and authorises textbooks in elementary and secondary schools. Throughout the country, the school year begins in April and ends the following march.

Malaysia too has evolved a common curriculum and common system of education. All schools, whether private or public, have to abide by the contents and curriculum approved by the MOE. All of them operate on semester system and the school calendar begins simultaneously throughout Malaysia in the first week of December.

In Sri Lanka too, there is a common national curriculum at-least from class 1 to 11 and the school year lasts from January to December in the entire island.

Remove discrepancies

So, there is a dire need to remove the discrepancy between the curricula of the religious and mainstream educational system. There should be a mandatory uniform national curriculum from class one to twelve.

At the intermediate level, all the students in the country should take a federal examination on the pattern of developed countries. Preferably, this examination should be conducted by reputable private institutions to ensure fairness, transparency and reliability and to minimise the chances of malpractices in them.

Free education

Equal opportunities of quality education should be made available to all the sons of the soil. For this purpose, education should be made free and compulsory.

Combine the two streams

Religious seminaries should be included in the mainstream educational network. For this purpose, a spirit of give and take is required on part of both the government and management of Madaris. After having F.A/F.Sc. from institutions based on national curriculum, a student, if she/he so desires, may seek admission in the modern seminaries for religious education and after completion of five years of education there, he should be given a bachelor degree. He may register for Ph.D for specialisation in any religious branch afterwards. It is hoped that through this system we will produce competent religious scholars well versed with Islamic teachings and modern problems.

Specialised education

In place of the present B.A / B.Sc, a new scheme of four years of specialised education should be started after the intermediate for all other branches and subjects on the pattern of medical and engineering courses. This new mechanism will ultimately abolish the obsolete and useless BA / BSc levels to the great advantage of the nation. Science subjects should be taught in English from day one. Their syllabi should be exactly the same as being taught in the developed countries. The curriculum should be goal-specific – we should teach doctors, engineers and other specialists about their own fields rather than making them jack of all.

Language

English should be made medium of instruction from day one. Colleges should have PhD faculty. University professors should be limited to research endeavours.

University as research centres

Universities should be research centres only and must never be allowed to conduct graduate or post graduate examinations. Their syllabi should be exactly the same as being taught in the developed countries. Colleges should have PhD faculty. University professors should be limited to research endeavours.

Teachers

Teachers are the soul of the educational system. The success of educational endeavours is dependent upon their commitment and hard work. Therefore they need better remuneration. They should be given special packages. I think post-graduate primary teachers deserve better remuneration and should be given grade seventeen as against the present grades 7 to 12. They should be offered refresher courses.

Less religious contents

Too much religious contents should be removed from the curriculum. It should be goal-specific –we should teach doctors, engineers and other specialists about their own fields rather than making religious scholars of them.

Why is there difference in students’ performances

Why do students fail to achieve desired grades?
TAHIR ALI WEEKEND MAGAZINE (March 27 2010): Why do students fail to achieve desired grades? Why do some students score well while others do not? Why is there difference in students’ performances? Why do some fail while others succeed? Questions such as these arise in minds and experts discuss the causes and forward their suggestions. In terms of their performances, I think, students can be classified into three categories: high achievers, moderate performers and low performers.

The first category comprises highly intelligent students, they just need a little attention and nudge to do wonders. Students in the second category have average abilities, they may excel if properly guided and lag behind if neglected. The third include dull students who can hardly memorise something, they need special attention and special techniques.

All of these kinds have their familiar attributes. For now I would enumerate the common characteristics of the third category. Low performers are distinguished easily from high achievers or moderate performers as they frequently absent from school:

— Arrive late in class but leave early, this is especially true for college and university levels;

— Even if present, they will not be attentive to what is being taught;

— Usually read some novel, digest or newspaper and don’t heed lectures;

— Usually look outside the window or are lost in thoughts;

— Are in a habit of exchanging looks with mates and gesturing for something;

— Talk with desk fellows during lectures, laugh, make a noise;

— Won’t take detailed notes and rather like to be passive listeners and not active participants in the teaching;

— Do not ask questions and also dislike being asked;

— Avoid fulfilling the assigned tasks and always try to avoid checking;

— Either don’t read at all or read wrongly, so they are unable to understand, master, and memorise the text materials;

— Are in the habit of missing exams or papers hoping they would do well next time. But it is again the same story – they put off studying until it is too late. They tend to procrastinate; lack motivation, are lazy, unprepared, undisciplined, have a poor attitude.

— Usually have a low IQ but may also comprise highly intelligent but misguided students;

— Don’t care for their books and notebooks, throw them casually; write untidily; live haphazardly – have nothing in its place and have no place for anything. There are various factors that impact the students’ personalities and pace the quality and quantity of their performances negatively or positively.

The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of the students, is effected by the factors of heredity and environment, the behaviour and level of guidance offered by their parents and teachers, the poverty and illiteracy or otherwise of their parents, their own health, study/classroom habits, their domestic, social and economic background, environment at school, teacher’s methodology and personality, the language barrier, the workload upon them, and their hobbies.

Some students are dull at some subjects but exceptionally better in others. This variation could be attributed to their inclinations and aptitudes or to their perception about the subject teacher and his teaching methodology. They need to be transferred to their favourite spots.

Some others have a limited span of attention. They can’t concentrate for long. They need to be given focussing exercises. Today, there are more distractions than in the past. These are the enemies of concentration and good future. If television, movies, surfing the net, chatting or partying with friends, video games, or anything else of the sort prevent them from focusing on studies, they should be shunned.

Students who work have little or no time to study and revisit the contents at home. It usually has a negative effect on their achievement level. According to Sayyad, a 7th class student who has now given up studies, his frequent non-attendance due to work weakened him and he had to leave school quickly.

Some students do try their level best to learn but fail because of their inappropriate study-habits. Zahid Ali, a student of class 9, says he read but his weaker IQ made it difficult for him to learn something. Students from broken and un-cohesive families usually score low.

“Two things that have helped Indian, and Pakistani children, in that order, excel in US schools, thus far – cohesive family, where father is the leader, manager, provider, who sets clear, and firm limits, regarding children behaviour, (and a mother who does not sabotage father’s agenda), and there is enormous, encouragement and motivation – at times it appears, that these kids from the sub-continent, have little nuclear battery fitted in them. That is all I learnt in 38 years as an educator in US,” writes Professor Naseem Khan of Johns Hopkins University USA. All these students cannot and must not be shepherded with same methods.

The administration and teaching staff in educational institutions should deal with each category of students the way best suited and beneficial for them. They usually comprise many gifted students in their ranks who can do wonders if their potentials are positively channelized.

Mir Alam Syed, a Mardan based lecturer, urges close teacher-parent-child relationship for this purpose. He says that revision of what has been taught at schools should be ensured at home. He also underlines the need for a competitive environment in classes as well.

Questions and their answers clarify ambiguous points and help understand the themes. Students should be encouraged that when ever they fail to comprehend, they should ask questions in classes or meet their teachers frequently in office hours to seek explanations. This simply doesn’t work if they remain confused but silent for months and visit their teachers to clarify points at the end of the year. Mohammad Yousaf Qindeel, a teacher at a local school asserts that individual attention and a proper mechanism for guidance and counselling of the students is needed in schools.

Youth usually behave in extreme ways. They study hard or hardly study. They work hard for one examination and do well, but then being over confident or careless they shirk work later and do worse. They should believe in work, work and work throughout their life.

According to Hafiz Mohammad Zubair, educationist, most often students engage in “passive study”. Studies have shown, however, that an “active” learning approach results in greater learning. Active learning requires “handling,” shaping or manipulating the information read, ie, reading and outlining, summarising, or answering questions about the text.

Students need to respect their subjects, teachers and class fellows. They should also make use of the library, the reading material there, the computer facilities and the like. They should befriend the brighter students which will benefit them academically. Students desire to be entertained, inspired and educated simultaneously. All teachers, however, are not really good at it. They should not have to be. Students can learn from even the dreariest teachers if they want to.

We all know there are inter-individual and intra-individual differences between students in spheres of physical, mental, emotional, social and educational development. It is for the teachers and psychologists to investigate as to what has caused variation in their attitude and performance and deal with each accordingly.

I think students have a prime role to play in deciding as to what they would and could become and which way they have to go. Their attention and devotion to studies can elevate them to higher positions, make up the deficiencies inflicted by other factors, and open new and improved vistas to them.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2010

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