11,850 primary schools in Sindh to be declared ‘not viable’, court told
KARACHI: The provincial education department on Tuesday informed the Sindh High Court that there would be 11,850 primary schools out of 38,132 schools in Sindh to be declared “not viable” after the proposed viability assessment of low or no enrolment schools.
Secretary of school education and literacy Qazi Shahid Parvaiz submitted a compliance report before a two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar on a set of petitions regarding lack of basic amenities in government schools as well as seeking implementation of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013.
The report said that the viability assessment of low/no enrolment schools was to be carried out with the objective to rightsize the total number of schools and ensure that financial resources were invested at the right place. The schools which would not be viable would be closed.
The indicators for closing schools included its viability, enrolment, population, availability of teachers and infrastructure and as per analysis, 11,850 schools are to be declared not viable as a result of this exercise.
Therefore no shelter-less school will remain in the system while optimum utilisation of resources, statistics of basic facilities and other indicators will be improved and the gap between primary and post-primary schools will also be reduced, it added.
The report further said that it was estimated that over six million children in the province were out of school, thus it was imperative to incentivise school-age children occupied in different trades and there was a serious need to expand learning programme to give fast-track to the out-of-school children and additionally provide them with technical training.
“This objective can be achieved with strengthening of non-formal education,” it said and added that there was also a need to conduct training of teachers, revise curriculum and textbooks, improve recruitment rules for teaching staff and school management officers, transparency and accountability.
The matter was adjourned till Dec 18 after the lawyer for petitioners sought time to place on record a list of schools which were facing security hazard for want of boundary walls. The secretary of education will file a progress report at the next hearing.
Human rights in curriculum
Meanwhile, the same bench on Tuesday directed the secretary of education to inform it about the outcome of a meeting of the Sindh Curriculum Council being convened to discuss the issue of making fundamental rights/human rights a compulsory subject.
The SHC had passed the order in November 2013 directing the provincial authorities to introduce fundamental rights/human rights as a compulsory subject in higher secondary education from academic year 2015 and onwards. However, the order was not complied with and a contempt of court application was filed against the provincial authorities.
On Tuesday, the secretary of education informed the bench that by the end of this month the Sindh Curriculum Council would convene a meeting to discuss the issue in question.
He said that a separate chapter of fundamental rights/human rights was likely to be incorporated in Pakistan Studies.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018