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President Ali Zardari Calls for Focused Attention
to Develop Primary Education

Associated Press of Pakistan
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Zardari at NCHD meetingISLAMABAD (APP): President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday called for focused attention to develop primary education facilities in the country saying “it was not merely a matter of education but also of national survival, development and security in the long run”. The degree of focus on education today will determine the survivability and quality of life of the people tomorrow, he said during his meeting with the delegation of Task Force on Education (PTEF) at Aiwan-e-Sadr. Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF) is a recent initiative being implemented with the assistance of United Kingdom with the objective to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of universal access and gender parity in the education sector.

The President said that the Government attaches great importance to development of education sector and is focusing on not only bringing about qualitative change in this sector but also extending the network of education institutions and eliminating ghost institutions in the far flung areas. He said that the assistance of the international community was greatly needed in direct investments in the people of Pakistan especially in the education sector.

He said the government was aware of the fact that the budgetary constraint was a major debilitating factor for launch of various initiatives and providing incentives to the parents to persuade them to send their children to schools and that is why it is resorting to the international community to assist the Government in education sector especially.

He said that lack of proper education facilities with poverty is not only hindering our national progress but also enabled the militants to mislead the impoverished youth by offering them free shelter and food in institutions that preach hatred and extremism.

However, the President said, merely more allocations and resources will not address the problems and issues in the education sector. While it is important to increase allocations for education, it is no less important to ensure that the additional resources and increased allocations are also translated into enhancing the learning skills of the children, he said.

The malaise that plagued our education sector was less that enough children did not go to schools and more that the children already going to schools were not learning well, the President said.

He said that quality education was steel armour that equipped a student to fight battle of life while spurious education was like wooden armour and of no help in the battle of life. We must provide our children and youth with the steel armour, the President remarked.

President Zardari said that quality education depended largely on quality teachers and quality curriculum which in turn call for a shift in investment towards developing the human resources in education sector particularly in the primary school teachers.

Calling for giving more incentives to primary school teachers the President advised the Government to examine the feasibility of pressing into service the incentive program of BISP (Benazir Income Support Program) and the associated Smart Card for this purpose.

Giving incentives through BISP will help creating a new team of quality primary school teachers to ensure that children already going to school also learnt well.

Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Co-Chair PETF and SAPM, briefed the President about achievements of the Task Force so far and said that PETF started its work by simplifying the National Education Policy to a seven-point agenda that consist of setting clear standards for learning, school performance and district performance; developing and implementing simple and transparent processes for monitoring purposes; informing citizens; providing state support and funding to non-government institutions, focussing on provision of quality text books and professional development for teachers, building the capacity and providing basic facilities for every school.

She said that Government was visualizing 86% literacy by 2015 as compared to 57% of the present literacy rate with an objective of achieving universal primary education by 2015.

She said that the focus of PETF was on improving the quality of education, equitable access, improving management and better education financing.

The members of the delegation included among others Ms.Shahnaz Wazir Ali, SAPM, Adam Thomson, UK High Commissioner, Ms. Nehnaz Aziz, Dr. Fareeha Zafar, Rachid Benmessaoud, Country Director World Bank, David Taylor, Deputy Head of Programs DFID, Dr. Philip Powell Davies, Senior Human Development Advisor, Dr. Warren Mellor, Director UNESCO Islamabad, Atussa Ziai, Education Advisor GTS and Ms. Katie Donohoe, Acting Director USAID Islamabad.

Sardar Asseff Ahmed Ali, Minister for Education, M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Imtiaz Kazi, Secretary Education, Sibtain Fazal Haleem, Secretary EAD and Spokesperson to the President former Senator Farhatullah Babar were also present in the meeting.



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