Category Archives: Social Issues

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

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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

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Population growth: Strategy for 7th Plan raises questions

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE PROPSALS that the Population Welfare Division has submitted for the Seventh Five-Year Plan make incongruous reading.

The first 45 pages are a candid admission of failure: the government could not meet any of the population targets of the Sixth Plan. Yet the goals spelt out for the Seventh Plan are even more ambitious than the previous ones which proved unattainable,

In the Sixth Plan period, not much headway has been made in the demographic sector. The Plan had aimed at increasing the level of acceptors from 9.5 per cent in 1983 to 18.6 per cent in 1988. But according to the Population Division’s report family planning practice actually fell to 9.15 per cent in 1987. Continue reading Population growth: Strategy for 7th Plan raises questions

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Budget and education:  Shortfall in outlay despite Iqra and other incomes                                                   

By Zubeida Mustafa

 WHILE the federal and provincial budgets announced in June have shown an increase in the allocations for the education sector as in previous years the government has failed to display the political will, social commitment and economic capacity to promote education sufficiently in a country where 74 per cent of the population is illiterate.The fact is that, increase in funds notwithstanding, Pakistan is still a long way from the goals the framers of the Sixth Five-Year Plan had laid down in 1983, which would have boosted literacy to 48 per cent and primary school enrolment ratio to 75 per cent. Continue reading Budget and education:  Shortfall in outlay despite Iqra and other incomes                                                   

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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.

But where does Pakistan stand in this new debate on quality versus quantity in education? Pakistan’s education planners would do well to study Bruce Filler’s Raising School Quality in Developing Countries. The anomalies in Pakistan’s educational system would, however, baffle the experts.

In the first place, primary education here has not expanded as fast as in many other Third World countries. Even 40 years after independence, Pakistan’s literacy ratio is dismally low at 26 per cent and primary school enrolment rate is barely 50 per cent. The country has not reached the peak of expansion as many other developing states where literacy and enrolment rates are considerably higher. Secondly, the expenditure on education has registered a much faster growth over the years. Yet the quality of education has shown no perceptible improvement. This is all the more evident when the key indicators for school quality in Pakistan are compared with those in other countries. For instance, the percentage of pupils completing primary school is 50 in Pakistan. It is 60 in low-income countries, 75 in middle-income countries and 93 in industrialised states. In Pakistan the per primary pupil expenditure was about US$28 in 1980 when it was US$59 in low-income countries, US$195 in middle-income countries and US$2,2,297 in industrialised countries. Only in respect of pupil-teacher ratio, Pakistan’s record of 36 in 1980 was better than the 44 for low-income countries. It was 32 for middle-income countries and 18 for the industrialised states. What the World Bank study seeks to establish is that investment in education can, if scientifically channelled, raise the level of student achievement. It is time Pakistan conducted surveys to research the economic benefits of “school quality” not only for individuals but also for the nation’s output. Such a study would serve a useful purpose by identifying the areas which need greater investments if the quality of education is to be raised. Conversely, it could help highlight wasteful expenditure which has little impact on academic level. The latter cannot be overemphasised in view of the fact that Pakistan’s investment in primary education has grown phenomenally over the years but neither has school enrolment expanded proportionately nor has school quality been raised. Broadly speaking, school quality has been defined as (a) the level of material inputs allocated per pupil (resource concentration), and (b) the level of efficiency with which fixed amounts of material inputs are organised and managed to raise pupil achievement. If maximum economic returns are to be obtained for the investments in education it is important to address the question, which specific material inputs are related to student achievement.

Related elements

The World Bank paper reviews 72 studies conducted in developing countries over 15 years. The findings are significant. The elements which were not found to be consistently related to achievement were: the class size, the availability of laboratories and the salary levels of individual teachers. On the other hand, elements which were found to be directly related to the achievement of students were: *

  • Expenditure per pupil * Instructional material e.g. textbooks, radio, etc.
  • School library activity
  • Teacher training
  • Teacher’s social background
  • Length of instructional programme.

It clearly emerges from the surveys that the key elements in determining the quality of education are availability of textbooks, intensity of the use of libraries, level of teachers and the time devoted to instruction. One inherent weakness of these surveys is that they do not take into account curriculum content, quality of textbooks and other books available and the management of instruction.

Teacher characteristics

From some earlier studies it has, however, been established that some characteristics of teachers definitely enhance learning. These include their academic and intellectual proficiency, creativeness, motivation, in-service training, knowledge and teaching methods.

The World Bank study emphasies the need for cost-efficiency in schools. One way of achieving this, it says, is to invest in those material elements of school quality which are cost-effective. This requires choosing among various school inputs and practices. To decide which input is worth investing in, the magnitude of each intervention’s effect and its cost needs to be evaluated.

It is clear that no such exercise has been conducted in Pakistan and the investment made in various sub-sectors of education are obviously quite unplanned.

The education budget has grown but school quality or quantity has not been enhanced correspondingly. If education is to be made cost-effective greater efforts will have to be made in the direction pointed out in the World Bank Discussion Paper.

Source: Dawn 4 April 1987

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Going to school in 1928

By Zubeida Mustafa

The elderly woman in the picture above is an. “unusual phenomenon” in Pakistan’s context — if one may describe her so. Devi — that is her name — is a widow who lives in Mithi (Tharparkar) with her sons and their families.

But the reason why I choose Devi to write about is that she is one of those few women of her generation living in rural Sind who have had formal schooling. For Devi was admitted to the Chelhar primary school in 1928 and seven years later she passed the “Vernacular Sindhi Final” — the middle school Continue reading Going to school in 1928

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The social sector: What the budget was likely to achieve

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE Federal Finance Minister has described Budget 1986-87 as being designed to provide relief to all sections of society in need of it.

Although there is greater emphasis on the social sectors and on welfare measures than before — their allocation having risen from 12 per cent of the budget in 1982-83 to 20 per cent in 1986-87 — the increase has been less than what was envisaged in the Sixth Plan. Continue reading The social sector: What the budget was likely to achieve

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A new stirring in rural Sind

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE villages of Sind are experiencing a new awakening. The people — both men and women — in rural areas of the province are developing a keen awareness of their deprivation and backwardness. Gone are the centuries old fatalism, complacency and submissiveness of yore. The people now want a change and more significantly they are prepared to work for it on a selfhelp basis. Continue reading A new stirring in rural Sind

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Pakistanis in Canada an isolated community

By Zubeida Mustafa

“A major factor which accounts for the inability of Pakistanis in Canada to adjust to their social environment is their inflexibility and intolerance of anything alien and attitude of moral superiority. Since they have been taught that they must not eat pork or drink wine, Pakistani Muslims are inclined to regard a person who does so as necessarily evil.

But it is wrong to judge people or assess their character on the basis of, their eating habits and lifestyle. This only creates a gap between the immigrants and the locals which makes life more difficult for the Pakistani settlers.” Continue reading Pakistanis in Canada an isolated community

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Larger allocations to help education and health sectors

By Zubeida Mustafa

AN UNUSUAL feature of the Federal Finance Minister’s budget speech on Thursday was the emphasis he placed on the need to develop the social sector in Pakistan, especially education.

His professed concern at the poor state of this sector was expressed in the shape of enormous increases in allocations for some of the social sector items in the Budget.

This is significant, given the poor performance of the Government in the fields of health and education — none of the Sixth Plan targets in these fields could be met in the first two years.

It has been clear that the major factor responsible for this state of affairs has been the paucity of resources made available to the social sector. In terms of budgetary allocations, the pace of implementation of the Sixth Plan has also been painfully slow. Only 23 per cent of the planned amount was spent on education and 27 per cent on health in the first two years of the Sixth Plan period. Continue reading Larger allocations to help education and health sectors

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