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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday unveiled Education Research Commission (ERC) to revolutionise the country’s education system, ensure inclusive and sustainable national development.

Chairing a meeting of the commission, the minister shed light on the nation’s paradoxical history and said “Pakistan has achieved remarkable milestones, defying global opposition, and asserting itself as a nuclear power. However, we face challenges in our education sector, which is vital for our future growth and prosperity.”

The ERC, comprising experts, policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders, would embark on a comprehensive study to analyse the education system’s performance since the devolution of the education sector to provinces.

Iqbal unveiled plans to address the challenge of out-of-school children by allocating funds amounting to Rs25 billion and underscored the importance of early childhood education, stating that a significant portion of these funds should be dedicated to this crucial phase of development.

Emphasising the significance of education as a fundamental right and a catalyst for socioeconomic progress, he reiterated that education impacted every citizen and transcended all societal barriers.

He acknowledged the widespread desire for high-quality education and highlighted the need for urgent action to address the persistent shortcomings.

In his address, Iqbal delved into crucial issues plaguing the education sector, expressing concern over the widening salary gap between public and private school teachers and recognising the governance issue that hampered effective education delivery.

The minister called for comprehensive reforms to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, stressing the importance of stability of tenure in improving the quality of education.

Furthermore, Iqbal emphasised the significance of data-driven decision-making and proposed the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the education system’s efficiency and effectiveness.

“By adopting evidence-based policy frameworks, Pakistan can ensure that every rupee invested in education yields optimal results and positively impacts the nation’s future,” the minister observed.

Addressing the critical role of teacher training in elevating the education system, he announced the establishment of a modern teacher training institute.

He shared his vision for a state-of-the-art facility that would become a model centre of excellence for teachers’ training, with the potential to elevate the standard of education across the country.

The minister also spoke about the urgent need for Madrassah (religious seminary) reforms, emphasizing the importance of matriculation equivalence in Madrassah education to provide students with diversified career opportunities and integrate them into mainstream society.

The commission’s findings would serve as a guiding light to shape evidence-based policies and initiatives aimed at nurturing a knowledgeable, skilled and forward-thinking generation.

Iqbal called for urgent and collective action, emphasising the need to expedite efforts during the upcoming caretaker government.

He envisaged that the commission’s findings and recommendations would provide a ready-made roadmap for the incoming administration, enabling swift and impactful improvements in the education sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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