Pakistan has the potential and expertise to address its education challenges but Government needs to embrace new solutions to deliver quality education
ISLAMABAD – Education experts gathered at a conference in Islamabad to help transform Pakistani students into innovative thinkers and to empower teachers with modern teaching methods and technology at `Pakistan Innovation Corridor’. The conference primarily focused on embracing new innovative solutions for addressing education deficits in the country, following the global practices.
Education experts at the conference discussed global education innovation trends and experiences in order to tackle education deficits in Pakistan.
Secretary Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education, Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar, was the chief guest on the occasion. Education is a big challenge which can be addressed by leveraging the full potential of public and private sector together, Secretary Education said.
Around 5.6 million children were out of school and the government through its efforts and support of other partners brought down this figure to 5.1 million, he said. The government is now targeting to enroll these 5.1 million out of school children to bring improvement. He assured to extend the support of federal government for this cause of improving literacy.
Pakistan ranks 113 out of 120 countries in the Global Education Development Index and innovative solutions are considered the best way to overcome challenges faced by the country in education sector. Pakistan also has the second highest out of school children population of which 30 percent are primary school aged girls and 64 percent children are from the poorest households.
Among those who do not make it to school, a large proportion of children are at risk of being a dropout. Around a quarter of children who reach Grade V cannot read sentences, 50 percent of the boys and 60 percent of the girls cannot read sentences in Urdu, 62 percent of the girls cannot do basic division.
These grim facts make the innovative interventions by educationists all the more important. Pakistan Innovation Corridor brought together practitioners, educationists, academics, media and policy makers from all over the country to think through the challenges in new ways and learn from global best practices.
The conference consisted of multiple sessions to discuss solutions and approaches for improving education quality, retention and learning outcomes along with workshops and spotlight sessions on specific theme such as evidence based policy-making, social entrepreneurship in education and innovative education products and services.
The conference was also a platform for showcasing transformational work commenced by a range of Pakistan based education institutions, innovators and activists who have developed effective solutions to create access to quality education.
The summit was jointly organized by Ilm Ideas, Pakistan Education Fund supported by UK’s Department for International Development and managed by DAI.
Deputy Head and Head of Basic Services Group, DFID Ms Judith Herberston said all of promising work at education summit showed the immense potential and expertise that Pakistan possesses to address the significant education challenges facing the country including access to quality education and improving learning outcomes.
The conference has focused on sustainable and innovative solutions to solve Pakistan’s education crisis.
However the government and other partners need to embrace new solutions and consider different ways of delivering quality education to make a difference to education system and children, Ms Judith remarked.
Ms. Zehra Zaidi, Team Leader at Ilm Ideas programme, reiterated the critical need for out of the box solutions for addressing education deficits in the country, focusing on the need for innovative interventions in crisis hit or conflict affected populations in the country.
“Ilm Ideas under the Education Innovation Fund was successful in piloting and testing of 33 innovative education solutions in the country which have demonstrated potential to change education outcomes” she said, adding:
“We must learn from and replicate excellent regional examples of education for all Pakistani children”.
The conference featured prominent speakers including Dr Rabea Malik and Dr. Faisal Bari from IDEAS, Ameena Saiyad from Oxford University Press, Irfan Muzaffar from Education and Social Research Collective, Adeel Aslam from Education Fund for Sindh, Monazza Aslam, Naeem Zamindar and Hammad Umar from Acumen Fund.
The other speakers were Imran Sarwar from Rabtt, Qasim Aslam from The History Project, Faisal Mirza from Aman Sports, Maryam Mohiuddin from Social Innovation Lab, Mehnaz Aziz from Global Children Network, Baela Jamil from ITA, Aban Haq from Ilm Ideas, Nadine Murtaza from Dheere Bolo and Isfandyar Inayat from The Citizen Foundation.
The Twitter hashtag for the conference was “#EdInnovation” which was extensively used by the attendees and speakers to voice their opinions: Some of featured Tweets are as follows:
“More research needed on the political economy of education in Pakistan”-Dr. Monazza Aslam #edinnovation
— Laraib Talat (@Laraib_T) June 2, 2015
There is no concept of education without sports…….#edinnovation.
— Asif A. Malik (@AsifMalik30) June 2, 2015
— Dheere Bolo (@dheerebolo) June 2, 2015
— Children Development (@CDO_Pakistan) June 2, 2015
The event also featured interactive education marketplace. StartUp magazine, Aman Foundation, TeleTaleem, Lettucebee Kids, Family Educational Services Foundation, Sabaq foundation, Children’s Global Network, were prominent among the 25 education service providers showcasing their solutions to a variety of potential clients and public.