Current Education Policy of Pakistan

    Following elections, the PTI assumed power in 2018. The PTI government was initially interested in issuing the NEP 2017 prepared by the PML-N Government after making certain modifications to the draft. To that effect, some work was also done in the Ministry of Education, but finally, the idea of tweaking the NEP 2017 (draft) was dropped and instead, another document, the National Education Policy Framework 2018, was issued. Besides the National Education Policy Framework, some other papers were produced, including the SNC, textbook guidelines, medium of instruction, HEC undergraduate policy, and a new PhD policy.

    National Education Policy Framework 2018 is a twelve-page document prepared during the PTI government’s tenure. The first three pages are the usual recap of educational challenges, e.g., net enrolment at the primary level, public expenditure on education as a percentage of the GDP, out-of-school children, the multi-educational system in Pakistan, medium of instructions in private and public schools, the quality of education, and tertiary and skills training.

    The framework defines the following four-point agenda:

  • Decrease Out of School Children (OOSC) and Increase School Completion
  • Achieve Uniformity in Education Standards
  • Improve the Quality of Education
  • Enhance Access to and Relevance of Skills Training

    The SNC document prepared during the PTI government’s tenure claims to lead to one system of education in terms of curriculum, medium of instruction, and a common platform for assessment. The following objectives are stated in the document:

  • All children have a fair and equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education
  • Social cohesion and national integration
  • Alleviation of disparities in education content across the multiple streams
  • Equal opportunities for upward social mobility
  • Equity in education
  • Holistic development of children in light of emerging international trends and local aspirations
  • Smooth inter-provincial mobility of teachers and student

    According to the Government, the SNC will be implemented phase-wise at different levels of education, starting from the primary level.

    Specific guidelines for the medium of instruction are given in the SNC concerning the status of English, Urdu, and the other tongues. It is claimed that English will be taught as a language rather than a subject. It is also resolved that a greater focus than before will be on the communicative competence of the language. For which interactive and collaborative pedagogical strategies are proposed.

    Guidelines for assessment and scoring rubrics/ marking schemes have been included for four language skills, including listening and speaking, which were not included in the 2006 curriculum. The initial thought was to use books written in Urdu, except for English, was later decided that English, Mathematics, and Science would be in English and General Knowledge, Social Studies, Islamiyat, and Urdu will be in Urdu. However, there is still resistance in some provinces against the shift from English to Urdu. Thus, the future of the medium of instruction regarding different subjects is still vague and uncertain.

    The Higher Education Commission proposed an undergraduate education policy that deals with Educational Programs leading to BS, professional degrees, and the associate degree (AD). The policy’s stated objective is to ‘enhance the likelihood of student success. The specific purposes of the procedure include Competency-based learning (knowledge, skills, and professional and interpersonal attributes), a balance between breadth and depth, Specialization, application of knowledge, emphasis on creativity, and converting BS into terminal degrees.

    The general requirement of a programme in the proposed policy is supposed to have a wide variety of fields of inquiry and aligns with the educational framework of the twenty-first century.

    Accordingly, the policy has three major components, i.e. General Education, Major/ Concentration/Discipline, and Practical Learning requirements. General Education comprises three areas of courses denoting breadth, foundation skills, and civilizational knowledge. The second component of the policy deals with concentration/ major discipline. The third component is the practical learning requirement, which aims to equip students with the skills they will need to succeed in such roles. This component has been divided into two categories, internship and practical learning lab. The minimum hours to qualify for a BS degree is 120 credits.

    The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan announced a new PhD policy which was supposed to be implemented on 1 January 2021. The HEC’s new PhD policy has some structural changes. One significant difference is the minimum requirement of study years for admission to a PhD programme. According to the new policy, this minimum criterion has been reduced from IS to 16 years of study. This allows a four-year BS degree holder to directly apply to a PhD programme, making it clear that an MS/MPhil degree is not a pre-requisite anymore.

    However, the BS degree holders who succeed in obtaining admission to a PhD programme should put in 48 credit hours, compared to 24 credit hours for MS/MPhil holders. Contrary to the previous PhD policy, the new policy does not require students to take GRE Subjects but just GRE General admission to a PhD program. Another meaningful change in the new policy is that students may apply to a PhD programme from their BS discipline. In this case, however, they require extra courses.

    Another necessary change is that it is not mandatory to send the PhD thesis to foreign experts for evaluation, and in case the researcher publishes a research paper in an X category journal, only one external expert is required for thesis evaluation. The duration of a PhD programme proposed in the new policy is three to eight years.

Source: Education Policies in Pakistan- Politics, Projections, and Practices by Shahid Siddiqui

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