BY KULSOOM ZAHRA
“Education is a movement from darkness to light” (Allan Bloom)
I find an abundance of truth in this statement, because it is something that lightens up not only any individuals’ future but also of nations. Education changes the pattern of thinking, drives away all the ignorance and leads to the path of success. It is viewed as a key to development of any society. Having distinct geo-strategic location and socio-economic dynamics Gilgit-Baltistan has always strived for quality education for its sustainable development. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds and inadequate technical and vocational institutions the dark hovering clouds are moving on the future of GB’s youth. The dearth of teacher training programs, career counseling and the absence of job market in GB further aggravates and darkens the prospect for the youth.
With the recently held ‘Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference’, there is a ray of hope for the first time. A policy is said to be designed which can play vital role in uplifting the standards of education and addressing the problems of students. The “8th Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ conference was held at Serena Hotel in Gilgit which was chaired and inaugurated by CM-GB Mr. Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman. All provincial Ministers made sure their presence in this historic conference. The main agenda of the conference was to provide a platform to all provincial education Ministers to share and discuss new ideas, give suggestions, and make reforms in the existing educational policies. The important decisions with mutual collaboration and consensus for all provinces was also given due importance. The crux of the conference was to make efforts to bring all the provinces into ‘One National Curriculum’ system. For this purpose, national curriculum council has already been established which is working on making same curriculum for all provinces. The council is playing a pivotal role in providing the provinces to devise curriculum according to their needs as well.
“Our constitution offers free education for children”, said Minister for federal education during conference. It is state’s responsibility to provide free education to children for which a policy will be initiated soon. Furthermore, Federal government is making efforts to make Quranic education compulsory in all the public schools across the country, so that the students of school and colleges can have proper understanding of religious knowledge. Nazra will be taught to primary students while proper Quranic education with translation will be instructed to the secondary students. Moreover, teacher training institutions will be established. To encourage the teachers to enhance teaching standards and equip themselves with 21st century skills the ‘Best Teacher Award Program’ will be held soon for which nominations would be asked from provinces in the upcoming October.
In this conference special focus is on Gilgit-Baltistan where establishment of Baltistan University and numerous primary and secondary levels schools along with laptop scheme has been ensured. One most important step taken by federal government is to bring all the missionary schools in mainstream. All ulemas belonging to different sects have endorsed this policy. For the first time all the students of maddaris will be able to appear in board exams. Such initiative seems to be very lucrative aiming to bring maximum numbers of students into education system. Benazir income support program has also initiated a good step to provide specific amount of incentive to the families of poor kids to make sure their attendance in schools. In addition, IPEMC has decided to end the rotten education system and put an end to cramming culture. A decision of making a ‘board control committee’ is underway and cheating will be considered as criminal act. Foreign scholarships will be increased. National text book learning policy will be revived to save the extra expenses of government. In GB there is lack of technical and vocational institutes that is why youth is facing problems in opting their desired field of studies. Karakoram International University also lacks diversity in fields. That is why youth is compelled to go other cities of Pakistan. However, the Minister for education and training, Engineer Baligh Ur Rehman has made sure for establishing two vocational institutes soon in GB.
The gist of the article is all these educational policies and initiatives seem to be lucrative and beneficial for the youth of Pakistan especially that of GB. Federal government has raised funds for education sector. If these above mentioned policies will be implemented in full letter and spirit with honesty, then we can see a far-reaching change in the field of education in near future which can enlighten the future of youth.