After declaring educational emergency, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government and its education department have initiated a series of steps to reform the education sector in order to ensure uniform access to education in the province.
Steps have been taken to ensure gender equality in the education sector, for which 1,251 community schools have been constructed throughout the province during the past three years. More than 43,000 girls in remote and far flung areas are benefitting from these institutions.
In the primary and secondary education levels, scholarships worth Rs 260 million were distributed among 585 students annually over the past three years. Over the same period, 199 M Phil and 120 PhD students were given financial assistance for successful completion of research projects in order to promote research activities.
Moreover, steps have been initiated for inclusion of information technology (IT) related teaching methodologies to modernize teaching methods. Since 2013, 670 IT labs have been constructed in different schools and 2,527 tablets worth Rs 89 million have been distributed among teachers.
In the IT sector, the government has also established digital labs that will allow students to conduct chemical experiments using a computer software instead of live chemicals.
According to Chief Planning Officer of the Higher Education Department, Mr Zaman, “these laboratories will not only save revenue by cutting down the use of live chemicals, but will also help students identify common mistakes committed during experiments. A total of eight such labs have been constructed, whereas three are currently under construction.”
In addition to digital laboratories, digital libraries are also being introduced for the first time in the province. These will help students connect with renowned libraries throughout the world and access any book they wish to read. Currently, the education department plans to extend these libraries to three colleges in the province.
Moreover, in the past three years, steps have also been taken by the education department for capacity development of teachers at the elementary and higher education levels. Sixty-six thousand and 905 teachers at the primary level and 835 teachers at the higher education level have been trained at a total cost of Rs 881 million. Trainings have been provided for capacity development in teaching methodologies and providing teachers with financial and administrative skills.
In order to encourage students and teachers towards better performance, cash prizes and vouchers worth Rs 390 million have been distributed among 13,858 deserving students and 1,800 teachers. Moreover, Rs 2.5 billion have been spent on purchasing 45 million books that were distributed among 4.1 million students free of cost.
Steps have also been taken to ensure transparency in recruitment of teachers. Under the new policy, teachers are being recruited through National Testing Services (NTS) in order to rule out human discretion and recommendations. During the past three years, 25,000 teachers have been recruited through NTS in order to meet the teacher-student ratio, which is one teacher for every 40 students.
Independent monitoring units have also been established to evaluate the performance of teachers and school staff. More than 300 teachers have been terminated on grounds of absenteeism, whereas disciplinary action has been initiated against 7,500 teachers. These steps have brought down the absenteeism rate by almost 10 per cent, whereas 441 non-functional schools have been reactivated.
Similarly, Biometric Attendance System has been installed in all 76 offices of the education department across the province and is in the process of being installed in 480 higher secondary schools across KP.
Under the new policy, every primary school will have six rooms for students as opposed to three rooms in the past. As per figures of the education department, more than 200,000 students will be able to study in classrooms instead of sitting in open air.
Another Rs 2.13 billion have been spent in purchasing furniture for more than 5,000 schools since 2013. According to figures of the education department, 430,000 children are now sitting on chairs instead of floor mats.
Steps have also been taken to provide students with a healthy learning environment. Two thousand and 583 play areas and 141 sports grounds have been built in schools throughout the province. Five thousand schools, including higher secondary, high and middle schools were provided with sports kits since May 2013 at an expense of Rs 500 million.
At the higher education level, Havelian Campus has been upgraded to full-fledged Hazara University, whereas provisions have been made in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) 2016-17 to upgrade Chitral and Buner campuses to fully fledged universities.
Additionally, two colleges for Home Economics have been established in Nowshera and Abbottabad, whereas two women universities have been established in Mardan and Swabi.