1. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2009 (the “Policy”) comes in a series of education policies dating back to the very inception of the country in 1947. The review process for the National Education Policy 1998-2010 was initiated in 2005 and the first document, the White Paper was finalised in March 2007. The White Paper became the basis for development of the Policy document. The lag in finalisation of the draft owes to lot of factors including the process of consultations adopted as well as significant political changes in the country.
2. Two main reasons prompted the Ministry of Education (MoE) to launch the review in 2005 well before the time horizon of the existing policy framework (1998-2010)1 had approached. Firstly, the policy framework has not served as a satisfactory guide, as the policies pursued under that framework had not produced the desired educational results. Performance of the education sector has been deficient in several key aspects, most notably in access rates, and in quality and equity of educational opportunities.
3. Secondly, new international challenges like Millennium Development and Dakar Education for All (EFA) goals, have gained greater momentum in the intervening years and demanded fresh consideration. These challenges are triggered by globalisation and nation’s quest for becoming a “knowledge society”. Besides, some compelling domestic pressures such as devolution of powers, economic development and demographic transformations have necessitated a renewed commitment to proliferation of quality education for all.
4. The Policy is based on a lengthy process of consultation initiated in 2005, in line with the roadmap endorsed by the Inter-provincial Education Ministers’ (IPEM) Conference. The review exercise was conducted in close co-operation with all stakeholders, particularly the Provincial, Area and District governments. Several indepth research studies were commissioned to feed into the process. To garner focused discussions, a series of 23 green papers were prepared on different topics by the National Education Policy Review (NEPR) team and widely disseminated to stimulate discussion and get feedback. The process included field visits to 31 representative
districts, one national and seven provincial/area education conferences, ten issues based focused group discussions and extensive consultations with educationists from all over Pakistan. With further consultations, the results were summarised in a prepolicy ‘White Paper2’ and circulated for comments. The final policy document benefits from a further round of comments from all stakeholders including the Provincial and Area Governments. The findings and recommendations represent the view of the majority of the stakeholders consulted across the country.
5. The document is organised into eleven chapters. Chapter 1 lays out the current state of Pakistan’s education sector. Available indicators are assessed against data in comparable countries. Chapter 2 describes overarching challenges and responses. Chapter 3 identifies two fundamental causes that lie behind the deficiencies in performance, and outlines the way forward that consists of system-wide and subsector level reforms. Chapters 4 and 5 chart out ways of improving performance at the sector-wide or system level, while Chapters 6 to 9 outline reforms and policy actions to be taken at the sub-sector level. Chapter 10 deals with Financing of Education and last Chapter 11 broadly suggests a framework for Implementation Action Plan of this Policy document.
6. Many of the areas discussed in this document have also been part of previous policy documents prepared in the country and apparently many of the problems continue. A new policy document on its own will not rectify the situation. However the document does recognise two deficits of previous documents, which if redressed, can alter results for the present one: governance reform and an implementation roadmap.
7. On governance, the policy discusses the issue of inter-tier responsibilities wherein the respective roles and functions of the federal-provincial-district governments continue to be unclear. Confusion has been compounded, especially, at the provincial-district levels after the ‘Devolution Plan’ mainly because the latter was not supported by a clear articulation of strategies. The other issue identified for governance reforms is the fragmentation of ministries, institutions etc. for management of various sub-sectors of education as well as, at times, within each subsector. Problems of management and planning have also been discussed and
8. On implementation, the Policy document includes a chapter that describes the implementation framework. The framework recognises the centrality of the federating units in implementation of education. The role of the Federal Ministry of Education will be that of a coordinator and facilitator so as to ensure sectoral and geographic uniformity in achievement of educational goals nationally. A shift has been made by making national policy a truly ‘national’ rather than a federal matter. For this, it has been recommended that the Inter-provincial Education Ministers’ Conference, with representation of all the federating units, will be the highest body to oversee progress of education in the country. In this respect the Federal-Provincial collaborative effort,
already initiated, remains the key to success.
9. It has also been proposed to make the document a living one that will be subjected to change whenever a requirement is felt. The IPEM will approve all such changes which can be proposed by any of the federating units.
10. The purpose of the Policy is to chart out a national strategy for guiding education development in Pakistan. Many of the policy actions outlined have already been initiated in reforms during the process, most notably in the domains of curriculum development, textbook/learning materials policy, provision of missing facilities and a number of initiatives already being implemented by the provincial and area governments. The Policy takes account of these ongoing reforms and integrates them into its recommendations.
11. The success of the policy will depend on the national commitment to the sector. Already there has been a marked improvement in the area as all provinces and areas as well as the federal government have raised the priority of education. This will now have to be matched with availability of resources and capacity enhancement for absorption of these resources to improve education outcomes for the children of Pakistan. It is a long journey that has already begun. It is hoped that the policy document will help give a clearer direction to the efforts and help in institutionalising the effort within a national paradigm.
For complete text, please follow the link http://www.moe.gov.pk/nepr/new.pdf