If the Muttahida Qaumi Movement comes to power, a network of libraries will spread across the country. If it is the Jamaat-e-Islami, the literacy level will reach 100 percent. In a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, teaching will become the most sought-after profession. If the Pakistan People’s Party wins, gender disparity in education will diminish. The Awami National Party will rebuild all school bombed by terrorists.
With the exception of the PPP, all political parties aim for a system where the sons of ministers and masons will study under the same roof. Or at least their education manifestos promise so.
In this pre-election round up, The News takes a look at how each political party plans to implement the constitution’s Article 25-A – the right to free and compulsory education for children aged from five to 16. And also if the parties will be able to meet the Millennium Development Goal deadline of universal primary education in 2015.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement
The MQM plans to increase the expenditure on education from the current 2.2 percent to at least five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to its manifesto.
The dual system of education, which includes the Urdu- and English-medium schooling as well as the matriculation and O-Level systems, will be abolished.
The Altaf Hussain-led party promises it will modify the school syllabus according to the “modern age and national requirements”. The civil society activists and philanthropists will be encouraged to adopt government schools.
Seminaries will be provided incentives to bring their syllabus and standard of teaching in conformity with mainstream education, the MQM manifesto states
Pakistan People’s Party
The PPP also promises to increase the education budget – but to 4.5 percent of the GDP. The decision-making process in the education department will be decentralised.
Gender disparities in education at the primary and secondary levels will be eliminated by providing incentives for girls to enrol at schools and vocational institutions.
The adult literacy rate will be boosted from the current 54 percent to 85 percent, the Bilawal Bhutto-led party claims.
Awami National Party
The Asfandyar Wali-led party is the only one talking specifically about a curriculum review and will allocate the highest percentage of GDP to education – six percent – if it comes to power.
The syllabus will be “purged” of hate literature and unwarranted glorification of wars, making it creative and skills-oriented, the party manifesto states.
All schools affected by terrorism will be rebuilt. High schools will be upgraded to secondary schools (Grade 12). Parents will be included in the educational process by introducing the concept of Parent-Teacher Associations.
The key points in the PTI’s detailed education manifesto include launching a national movement to abolish “education apartheid”; reducing school drop-out rate through incentives such as stipends, food and free books; setting up a public university in each district in collaboration with the private sector; one syllabus for all schools to follow; achieving 80 percent functional literacy; and making the profession of teaching the most sought-after.
The Imran Khan-led party also plans to mobilise fresh graduates, educationists and unemployed youth for its “education movement”. Like the MQM, the PTI also promises to increase the expenditure on education to five percent of the GDP.
As expected of any rightwing party, the JI plans to make education of Quran and Hadith compulsory for all students in a “single system of education”.
The party has, however, not explained what system will be in place.
But when it says that seminaries will be encouraged to introduce mathematics and science, and education in the Urdu language will be promoted, perhaps it is understandable which system will take the tumble.
The syllabus will be redesigned according to the ideology of Pakistan. Student unions will be restored in universities and every teacher will be given a house after retirement.
The most ambitious claim of the Munawar Hasan-led JI is, however, that it will achieve 100 percent literacy rate within five years.