The growth of private schools and the decline in children’s learning abilities pose a paradox for experts – Journal

KARACHI: According to the findings of a UNESCO and Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report titled “Non-State Actors in Education: Who Chooses? Who loses ?’ launched by the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) at a local hotel here on Friday, private primary schools have grown faster in South Asia than in any other region of the world with the strongest involvement of non-governmental actors.

The report shows that private educational institutions have doubled in primary education in 20 years both globally (from 10% in 2000 to 19% in 2020) and in South Asia (from 19% in 2000 to 38% in 2020).

The share of private institutions in secondary education is 27% worldwide and 50% in South Asia.

But despite rapidly growing access to education in South Asia more than in any other region of the world, children are not learning as fast as they should. Rather, they are a third below the world average and are growing more slowly than in the rest of the world.

Fundamental education issues were discussed at the launch of the Global Education Monitoring Report by Unesco and ITA

The director of GEM, Unesco, Manos Antoninis, was of the opinion that people establish private schools for various reasons such as education, religion or business, as well as multiple combinations.

He also said that children who take additional lessons despite studying in private schools show the quality of education provided in these schools. “One-to-one tutoring is the elephant in the room,” he said, while making several suggestions such as establishing quality standards that apply to all institutions and improving the capacity of the state.

He also suggested applying common monitoring and support processes to state and non-state institutions and maintaining transparency and inclusiveness in the public education policy process.

During a panel discussion, which followed the sharing of the main findings of the report, several education experts shared their views on public and private education in the local context.

Kazi Kabir, chief executive of the Sindh Education Foundation, said the government must do more for the growth of private sector education. “It must create an environment for non-state actors to come forward,” he said.

NOD-School Education Literacy Department PPP Director Tauseef Lateef said he believes in improving teacher capacity.

The Chief Program Director of the Reform Support Unit, Junaid Hameed Samo, said there was a need for quality education at an affordable price.

Senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa said language was the main issue at the heart of education as it was the mode of communication. “If you introduce a foreign language at the beginning of education, which may even be Urdu to a Sindhi child, it will make that child anti-education,” she pointed out. “Make the child a friend of education by addressing them in their mother tongue,” she said.

Aaron Awasen, chief administrative officer of the Family Educational Services Foundation, which focuses on educating deaf children, said language is key to learning and education. “For the deaf, it’s sign language,” he said.

Dr. Shehzad Jeeva, CEO and associate professor of practice at the AKU review board, said quality of life starts with good communication.

Well-known economist, Dr Kaiser Bengali, said he was all for public-private partnerships, but some schools here were acting as stores of education. “All the senior civil servants here send their children to private schools even if they themselves went to public schools. If you force them to send their children to public schools, the level of public schools will increase because so many private schools have taken the pressure off public schools,” he said.

Dr Shahnaz Wazir Ali, president of Szabist, said there was not enough data to provide a full picture of private sector schools. “In Pakistan, it is also population growth that is impacting our financial resources and the state is unable to keep pace as the public does not receive adequate education, health, clean water etc., from the government. It is therefore a politico-social economy. You can’t get quality for cheap. We need a deeper analysis of non-governmental or non-state arrangements.

Head of Strategic Development at Citizens Foundation, Rahila Fatima Shakil; Dean AKU-IED Dr. Farid Panjwani; CEO and member of IDEAS Pakistan, Dr. Rabea Malik, and CEO of ITA, Baela Raza Jamil also spoke.

Posted in Dawn, November 12, 2022

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