LAHORE - South Asian Forum for Education Development (SAFED) in collaboration with Centre for education and consciousness and the Education Testing Service (ETS) Princeton held an international conference titled “Quality-Inequality Quandary: Transacting Learning Relevance & Teacher Education in South Asia” here at a local hotel on Wednesday.
While addressing the inaugural session of the two-day conference, Planning and Development Secretary Ali Tahir stressed the need of providing equal educational opportunities to the children of all segments of the society. He said that 59 percent population comprised of youth and it was vital to invest in education sector to improve its standards. He asserted that provision of education was the responsibility of the state but it would not be possible without the support of private sector. He maintained that besides investment in education sector, political will to provide quality education was pertinent. Ali Tahir said that the Punjab government was committed to provide education for which it had allocated one third of its total budget to education.
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Director Rukmini Banerji said that both India and Pakistan were facing same problems and it was a positive change that educationists of both countries were discussing on one platform. While sharing the data of ASER India Report 2011, she said that in India 97 percent children between 6 and 14 were enrolled in schools. She said that according to ASER 2011, it was estimated that 50 percent children of grade fifth could not read the text of grade second. She said that big challenge for India and for many other countries was to move from ensuring schooling to guaranteeing learning for all children.
On the occasion, Awami National Party Vice President Bushra Gohar said that it was important to avail available resources rather than asking for funds from World Bank and other donor agencies. She stressed the need of making the process of accountability strong to welcome foreign investment in education sector. ANP leader said that there was ample room for improvement in schools of rural areas and condemned the political influence in the posting and transfer of teachers.
PU Faculty of Education Dean Muhammad Iqbal said that the government should focus on enhancing the quality of education of public sectors schools because majority of the children from poor background were enrolled in them.
MNA Saira Afzal Tarar, ETS Senior Vice President Michael Nettles and ITA Director Programs Bela Raza Jamil also spoke on the occasion.