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It is mandated in the Constitution of Pakistan to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 5 and 16 and to improve adult literacy. With the 18th constitutional amendment, the concurrent list which included 47 subjects was abolished and these subjects, including education, were transferred to the federative units in a process of provincial autonomy.
The year 2015 is important insofar as it marks the deadline for participants in the Dakar Declaration including Pakistan. Education-related statistics associated with Pakistan’s progress on education goals set in Vision 2030 and Pakistan’s delay in achieving EFA goals and its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for education call for analysis of Pakistan’s education system and to examine issues and problems. he copes so that viable solutions can be recommended.
The education system includes all the institutions involved in the delivery of formal education (public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit, on-site or virtual education) and their faculties, students, physical infrastructure, resources and rules. In a broader definition, the system also includes institutions that are directly involved in the funding, management, operation or regulation of these institutions (such as government ministries and regulatory bodies, central testing organizations, textbook advice and accreditation advice). The rules and regulations that guide individual and institutional interactions within the facility are also part of the education system.
The discussion during the workshop highlighted a number of key challenges that must be addressed when performance appraisals are used for accountability in the federal adult education system:
UNESCO’s World Report on Adult Learning and Education called on countries to invest in adult education, after a study of 139 countries showed states had made progress in most aspects of economic life, governance, finance, health, well-being and direct consequence of their adult education policy. According to the same report, nearly a billion adults in the world cannot read or write. For those who live in such circumstances, it would be more difficult to cope with a disruption of life as they know it.
The acute impact of the lack of adult education is exacerbated in a world of digital interaction. For those who are waiting for life to return to ‘normal’, it is now clear that there will be none. We must adapt to the paradigm shift and the more we bemoan our lack of technological expertise, the more painful this transformative journey can become. If we can put systems in place to deliver adult education now, especially in computer science, that would accelerate the progress that we hope our next generation will make.
We have strong evidence from European countries where policies that have broadened the reach and impact of the informal adult education sector have had exponential spillovers. Policies are based on needs, directly linked to the impact that is to be created. Austria, for example, focuses on open educational resources and the effects of digitization on adult education, while Belgian adult education policy largely focuses on vocational training and social inclusion. Needless to say, there are lessons to be learned from these savings.
Many high potential adult programs have mushroomed in Pakistan and have failed due to lack of impact and sustainability. Some time ago, the government launched an adult education program funded by UNICEF, USAID and the Japan International Corporation Agency and piloted in 300 centers in five cities. In addition to basic reading and writing skills, it offers vocational training and personal development.
Perhaps we need a more structured and collaborative approach – bringing together multiple stakeholders and adult educators – who can focus on goals, tap into online tools, and benchmark learners against international standards.
Teaching adults is a whole different ball game than teaching children, as their cognitive abilities, experiences, and specific motivation for learning come into the process. Identifying the needs of learners is the first step in developing a relevant and cohesive program. Often times we find ourselves repeating the same mistakes like cats chasing their own tail, losing value through trial and error. Investing time, money and effort in adult education can go a long way, but it is a road that promises to open up multiple avenues in the future.
Believing the value of education, the government should take solid action on this issue. Focus on the implementation rather than the projection of policies. The allocation of funds should be facilitated from provinces to districts, then to educational institutions. Workshops should be organized for teachers. Foreign states use the LSS system. It should be introduced in Pakistani schools to improve the hidden qualities of children. Technical education should be provided to all classes. The Punjab Education Council has planned a plan to provide technological education to the children of industrial workers. The promotion of primary education is a need for time. Teachers, professors and pedagogues should be consulted in the development of any plan, program or policy. The state seems to be abandoning its responsibility and relying entirely on the private sector. The need for time is to bring education in its original form to the masses. Overloading the students with so many books will not work because it will not understand what the world is going to do the next moment. Education is the only remedy for state instability and can bring about revolution through evolution, eradicating social ills. Here is how to eradicate illiteracy in Pakistan.
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