High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster

By Zubeida Mustafa

44-14-07-1989Pakistan is heading for a demographic disaster. And if we need to be reminded of it,, the recently published report of the National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS) in Islamabad should serve the purpose. It very bluntly states the implications of a runaway population growth rate for the socio-economic development of the country.

The State of Population in Pakistan graphically describes the impact of a high population growth rate (2.8 – 3.1 per cent by current guesstimate) on various sectors in the last four decades. It also projects future growth at a constant rate and how it will affect the socio-economic situation in the year 2000. In mid-1987 Pakistan’s population was estimated to be 102 million. At the turn of the century it will be 150 million if it continues to grow at the rate of 2.8 per cent per annum. Continue reading “High population growth rate, low status of women: Perfect recipe for Demographic Disaster”

Education gets more funds but still below requirements

By Zubeida Mustafa

In a welcome departure from past practice, the Federal Finance Minister for State listed education as the first priority of Government policy in his budget speech on June 3. The next priorities were identified as rural development and power generation.

It is encouraging that after a long period of neglect, education should figure as a major concern of the Government. This is also reflected in the massive increase of 68 per cent in the Federal Government’s development budget for education for 1989-90. It has increased from Rs. 1.17 billion in 1988-89 to Rs. 1.97 billion for the coming year.

43-01-07-1989_AThe PPP Government’s commitment to education notwithstanding, the overall budgetary situation in respect of this sector points to the financial constraints faced by the planners. The provinces which finance primary, secondary and college education have not been in a position to match the Federal Government’s generosity. In some provinces the education development budget has had to be slashed. Continue reading “Education gets more funds but still below requirements”

Educating Orangi

By Zubeida Mustafa

“Punishment should be reformist in its goal. It should make the child realise his mistake…But punishing a child unnecessarily and aimlessly will not inculcate good habits in him nor will it reform him … Corporal punishment creates hatred in a child for his teacher… It should be avoided. (Translated from Urdu)

These and many more practical suggestions are contained in the Teacher’s Guide published recently by the Orangi Educational Project. The guidelines do not reflect anything radically innovative. But the move to publish a 31-page guide of this nature is definitely an unprecedented step. Some of the trained teachers say they had never been taught many of th42-21-04-1989ese norms in the course of their training.

The publication of the guide speaks of the collective efforts of a handful of schools to upgrade themselves and improve their quality of education. It is not strange that it should be schools in Orangi which should have decided to opt for a self-improvement process. According to Dr Akhter Hameed Khan, the Director of Orangi Pilot Project and the driving force behind the education programme, Orangi is a new settlement and its people have the pioneering spirit of settlers. Hence they are willing to shed old conventions and inhibitions and experiment with new ideas. Continue reading “Educating Orangi”

Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating

By Zubeida Mustafa

In a recent study on family planning in 95 Third World countries, the Washington-based Population Crisis Committee ranked Pakistan 43rd in availability of modern birth control methods, service related activities, information and outreach and government commitment to population in terms of budget and policy. Out of a total score of 100, Pakistan received a lowly 29 and was rated as “poor”.

It compared most unfavourably with Taiwan which scored 92 and was ranked first. In fact Pakistan was also way behind other South Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh which scored 76,64 and 64 respectively. Even Nepal was better off with a rating of 30.

What emerged significantly from the survey was the close relationship between family planning programmes, the decline in fertility rate and the level of economic development. Higher decline in total fertility rate (TFR) between 1970 and 1985 occurred in countries with “excellent” scores on access to birth control. It is no coincidence that these are also countries which have recorded good progress in the economic field such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Pakistan’s TFR fell by only 18 per cent when China’s recorded a decline of 55 per cent. The TFR in India and Bangladesh fell by 32 and 21 per cent respectively. Continue reading “Population survey: Pakistan’s poor rating”

Women power at work

By Onlooker

Ravaged by rains, overflowing sewers and digging by . civic agencies, the approach road to the Karachi Administration Society (adjacent to the PECHS) had been in a state of battered neglect for months.

No one came to attend to it when the post-monsoon road mending work was taken in hand all over the city in August.

Quite belatedly at the end of October, this heavily used stretch of road was put into good shape. Few are aware of the formidable ‘women power’. that went into its repair.

37-02-12-1988But the Councillor of the area, the KMC, the ZMC and other agencies concerned know better. They have found it impossible to ignore the forty or so women who have periodically visited their offices demanding what they insist is their right as tax-payers. They call themselves the Karachi Administration Women Welfare Society. Continue reading “Women power at work”

Government and private schools compared: elitist versus plebian

By Zubeida Mustafa

Why don’t parents boycott private schools? This question was posed to me by a senior bureaucrat in the government’s education department. He was speaking in the context of the countless complaints parents, educationists and students voice against private educational institutions.

Any parent would tell him that private schools are the lesser of the two evils: the other being the schools managed by the government.

When parents have a choice between the two, the private institutions are invariably their first priority. It is understandable. Inefficiency, corruption and lack of resources have taken their toll in the schools in the public sector. Their standard of education and academic environment have deteriorated to an appalling extent over the years. Continue reading “Government and private schools compared: elitist versus plebian”

Education in Seventh Plan: The weakening political commitment

By Zubeida Mustafa

EDUCATION is not a high priority item in the draft of the Seventh Five-Year Plan. The targets are relatively modest and if these are achieved, Pakistan would still remain educationally backward.

Given the government’s poor record in meeting the goals of the Sixth Plan it appears that the authors of the Seventh Plan are being .more cautious and realistic in not aiming too high. But the lower targets could also be indicative of the government’s weakening political commitment to education. Continue reading “Education in Seventh Plan: The weakening political commitment”

An unconventional calling

By Zubeida Mustafa

Way back in 1974, when Khushi Kabir first went to Vnandapur, a remote village in Sylhet, to do relief and rehabilitation work for Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), it was a new experience for her.

Previously   her work had been restricted to the village on the outs- kirts of Dhaka. Anandapur took her away from her home and family, Living among the peasants and interacting with them, Khushi developed a new approach to life. She gradually shed off her inhibitions and values imbibed from her middle class background (her father was Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Information in United Pakistan). She was soon to discover the fulfilment of working with the downtrodden.

Continue reading “An unconventional calling”

Fight against illiteracy: an uphill task

By Nafisa Hoodbhoy and Zubeida Mustafa

“Bina parhayjo waqt gunwaya”, the powerful TV jingle, came to mind as we walked one after-‘ noon through a long dusty corridor of a government school in Korangi. We (were on a surprise visit to one of the Nai Roshni schools.

Going up a flight of stairs in the school building, we came upon a classroom without window panes. Seated on dusty wooden benches, with books open before them on rickety desks .were 24 boys in dishevelled shalwar-kameez and chappals. They listened intently as their young bearded teacher taught numerals on the blackboard with almost religious devotion.

This was a maths class in progress at the Nai Roshni school. After the teacher had finished he called upon one of the children to come and recite the tables. The boy did so with great zeal in a sing-song tone and the class repeated the lesson after him. Even when the child made a mistake the class did not falter. It was the teacher who would intervene. Obviously the emphasis was on the rote method so common in the schools here. Continue reading “Fight against illiteracy: an uphill task”

Where does Pakistan Stand? World Bank study on school quality

By Zubeida Mustafa

ACCORDING to a recently jublished World Bank study, the slowdown in the :rash expansion of the school system in Third World countries, and the decline in the investment capital available to them, lave caused policymakers to turn their attention to the quality of education.

It is now being realised that low levels of student achievement are hampering economic development. Moreover, poor school quality means that in many cases education is not cost-efficient. Continue reading “Where does Pakistan Stand? World Bank study on school quality”