Fiji Time: 6:42 PM on Saturday 18 November

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / World

Filling school system gaps

Reuters
Saturday, November 11, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Two young boys kneel over small white tables, intently studying the Koran at a madrassa in Pakistan.

The Al-Nadwa Madrassa in the hill station of Murree, 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the capital, Islamabad, is part of an established alternative system of education in the South Asian nation.

Private schools, charitable institutions and religious seminaries are stepping in to supplement government-run schools to help meet the education needs of an estimated 50 million school-age children.

Despite 220,000 schools nationwide, more than 20 million children are not in school, the government said in a 2016 report.

The government has pumped money into schooling, with the education budget swelling by 15 per cent every year since 2010, according to education consultancy Alif Ailaan.

The United Nations estimates Pakistan's current education budget at 2.65 per cent of GDP, roughly $8 billion, or around $150 per student.

Private educators say the country's education problems are not only due to a lack of funds but also inadequate teaching.

"It's not the number of schools, it's the quality, the attitude," said Zeba Hussain, founder of the Mashal Schools which teaches children displaced by war in the country's north.

Hussain started the charitable Mashal Schools after she met a group of refugee children while visiting the hill areas surrounding Islamabad.

Federal education director Tariq Masood said blaming teachers was unfair. He said population growth and funding were the biggest challenges faced by government schools.

Masood said government schools adhered to a nationwide curriculum that was being constantly reworked and improved.

"No one who is underqualified can enter the government system. There are fewer checks in the private system," he said.

The country's poor often send their children to one of the thousands of religious madrassas (the Arabic word for school) where students live and receive Islamic instruction.

Most operate without government oversight and some madrassas have been criticised for their hardline teachings of Islam.

The madrassas say they provide shelter, three full meals, and a good education to young people whose families are unable to make ends meet.

"In certain cases people send their kids because they can't even afford to feed them," said Irfan Sher from the Al-Nadwa Madrassa.

He said Pakistan's future hinged on education for its youth.

"The overall policy should be changed ... they should understand that if they want to change the country the only way is to spread quality education," he said.








Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Westpac
Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.62050.6015
JPY 55.545452.5454
GBP 0.36760.3596
EUR 0.41340.4014
NZD 0.71590.6829
AUD 0.64370.6187
USD 0.48830.4713

from

$0.00

Exchange Rate updated on 17th, November, 2017

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. A proud Fijian in Bonn
  2. Passion and pride
  3. Important test
  4. COP23: Tense finance negotiations delay close
  5. Labour to map out strategies for 2018 poll
  6. Dengue cases drop
  7. Broken crossings raise villagers' concerns
  8. Surgical team offers free ENT treatment
  9. Charting a course for change
  10. 18 artistes honoured

Top Stories this Week

  1. Fiji places second for Miss World 2017 talent Wednesday (15 Nov)
  2. COP23: France invite for Timoci Friday (17 Nov)
  3. Signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours Sunday (12 Nov)
  4. Storer stands strong Sunday (12 Nov)
  5. Students holiday fares clarified Tuesday (14 Nov)
  6. Where there's a will... Thursday (16 Nov)
  7. Stunningly impressive Tuesday (14 Nov)
  8. Bati-mania Tuesday (14 Nov)
  9. Tighten defence Wednesday (15 Nov)
  10. Arnold pays Fiji a visit Monday (13 Nov)