Ed­u­ca­tion Re­mains The Suf­ferer In The Power Game of De­vo­lu­tion And De­cen­tral­iza­tion

*Chaudhry Faisal Mush­taq

The Diplomatic Insight - - Contents -

The ways in which pub­lic pri­mary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion is financed and de­liv­ered varies greatly through­out the world. Many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and coun­tries in tran­si­tion to mar­ket economies have highly cen­tral­ized gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion of ed­u­ca­tion and other pub­lic ser­vices. Dur­ing the 1990s and early twenty-first cen­tury, many of th­ese coun­tries be­gan to de­cen­tral­ize ed­u­ca­tion. This phe­nom­e­non pro­ceeded fastest in Latin Amer­ica and Eastern Europe, but sev­eral coun­tries in Asia andAfrica also be­gan ini­ti­at­ing de­cen­tral­iza­tion poli­cies. Ed­u­ca­tion in Pak­istan is still emerg­ing as a result of poor pub­lic al­lo­ca­tion, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in de­liv­ery meth­ods, na­tion­al­iza­tion fol­lowed by pri­va­ti­za­tion, poor man­age­ment of the sec­tor and now de­vo­lu­tion. The ed­u­ca­tional mis­sion of Pak­istan is on a col­li­sion course with pol­i­tics. The 18thA­mend­ment in con­sti­tu­tion of Pak­istan passed by the Na­tional Assem­bly on April 8, 2010 did not re­quire a com­plete abo­li­tion of the Fed­eral Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion ac­cord­ing to ex­perts. It only stopped the fed­eral gov­ern­ment from un­der­tak­ing any leg­is­la­tion re­lat­ing to ed­u­ca­tion. In its im­pli­ca­tions to ed­u­ca­tion is that the syl­labus, cur­ricu­lum, pol­icy, plan­ning and stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion is likely to fall un­der the purview of the prov­inces, hence rais­ing a big ques­tion mark over the ca­pac­ity of prov­inces to han­dle such a big chal­lenge. The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion could have been re­tained as a plat­form for the prov­inces to share views and har­mo­nize their poli­cies per­tain­ing to larger na­tional aca­demic in­ter­ests in sup­port of pri­mary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. De­vo­lu­tion in Pak­istan is oc­cur­ring in the large con­text of low ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, poor cov­er­age and highly un­equal ac­cess - across in­come groups, be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral pop­u­la­tions. The ma­jor is­sues and chal­lenges in­clude high dropout rate, wide spread teacher ab­sen­teeism, weak man­age­ment and su­per­vi­sion struc­ture, short­age of trained and qual­i­fied teach­ers, lack of teach­ers ded­i­ca­tion, mo­ti­va­tion and

in­ter­est in their pro­fes­sion and lack of phys­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. The de­vo­lu­tion has in­creased the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal com­plex­i­ties in the form of lan­guage, cur­ricu­lum uni­for­mity, teacher train­ing. Ca­pac­ity build­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and assess­ments. For ex­am­ple provin­cial au­thor­i­ties are given re­spon­si­bil­ity for the cur­ricu­lum but their free­dom of ac­tion is lim­ited by na­tional re­quire­ments dic­tat­ing the min­i­mum stan­dards stu­dents must meet to move up to the next level. To add to the com­plex­ity, poli­cies on the whole, are ram­shackle com­pro­mises, hit and miss af­fairs that are re­vised, twid­dled with, re­fined and en­acted through com­plex pro­cesses of in­flu­ence, text pro­duc­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion and ul­ti­mately, re-cre­ation in con­texts of prac­tice. The pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is un­able to meet the de­mand for ed­u­ca­tion re­sult­ing de­crease in en­rol­ment in pub­lic schools. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween prov­ince and dis­tricts seems not very cor­dial on some un­re­solved mat­ters such as fi­nance, school cur­ricu­lum, stu­dent's as­sess­ment and teacher train­ing. Non-avail­abil­ity of fund makes it difficult for ed­u­ca­tion man­agers work­ing at district level to take ra­tio­nale de­ci­sion. Of­fi­cials work­ing at district level are hes­i­tant to take de­ci­sion par­tic­u­larly al­lo­cat­ing re­sources among schools due to lack of guid­ance for al­lo­ca­tion of funds to schools. There is no for­mula for dis­tri­bu­tion of funds for de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties that is hav­ing a direct impact on qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion The pro­vi­sion of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the provin­cial gov­ern­ment while the district gov­ern­ments have been as­signed the task of iden­ti­fy­ing de­vel­op­ment in­di­ca­tors and on­ground im­ple­men­ta­tion within the given struc­ture. But the link­age be­tween the provin­cial and district gov­ern­ment in cer­tain ar­eas still re­main­sweak. There is even some am­bi­gu­ity about the role and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties among DCO/ EDO and other of­fi­cers which is cre­at­ing frus­tra­tion among the of­fi­cers. There is mis­match be­tween of­fi­cers and na­ture of jobs par­tic­u­larly. By chang­ing ti­tles of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials one can­not change their mind­sets and be­liefs that seem to be pas­sive re­sis­tant in shar­ing their power with other key de­ci­sion-mak­ers. It is a uni­ver­sal fact that there can be peo­ple who may be good teach­ers but may not be good man­agers. The ma­jor­ity of th­ese of­fi­cers do not have ex­pe­ri­ence and tech­ni­cal skills to deal with plan­ning, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and de­vel­op­ment of schemes. To sum up there is sim­ply del­e­ga­tion of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties without any au­thor­ity. At the op­po­site pole of the gov­er­nance spec­trum, cen­tral­ized de­ci­sions had more of­ten not proven to be poor ones. Mea­sures that are the prod­uct of too un­wieldy and dis­con­nected ap­pa­ra­tus ac­com­plish very lit­tle. Ul­ti­mately, ed­u­ca­tional change re­quires co­her­ence and sta­bil­ity and for now, ed­u­ca­tion re­mains a suf­ferer in the power game of 'de­vo­lu­tion' and 'de­cen­tral­iza­tion '. Even if lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are given the ex­clu­sive right to take ini­tia­tive on ed­u­ca­tional mat­ters, a cer­tain level of control may

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