There is a general agreement that the quality of education has been a major casualty of the system’s inefficiency. The biggest victim h as been the public education system but quality cannot be assumed as given in the private schools. Efforts to increase enrollments are not sustainable in the absence of quality education in the country. Re-prioritization of quality can only be initiated with a common understanding of the term and then focusing on the major imports that impact it; these being curriculum, textbooks and learning materials, assessments, teachers and the learning environment ava ilable in an educational institution. 90. Broadening the base with quality is the most central strategic education policy priority. The superstructure of the knowledge society ca nnot be erected without a wide and high quality base that can feed quality human resources into all walks of societal endeavour, from the economic to the social. This chapter sets reform s for widening the base of education at the foundation level, in the areas of early childhood, primary and secondary education. Since much of non-formal and adult learning is also concerned with the foundation level learning, the chapter also presents reforms and policy actions for this sector. 5.1 EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION(ECE) 91. Historically, however, ECE has not been formally recognized by the public sector in Pakistan. The traditional ‘katchi’ class in some public sector schools has predominantly remained a familiarization stage towards formal schooling fo r un-admitted, young students. A limited part of the Grade I National Curriculum is taught to this group. 92. Against this background, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, ECE was included as a component in the Education Sector Reform s programme and funding was provided to the provincial and district governments. ECE was also included in the National Plan of Action of Education for All. Pakistan is committed to th e Dakar Framework of Action, the first goal of which is to expand and improve comprehensive ECE for all children, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. 93. Progress has been achieved over the last few y ears, as noted in Annex- A, but further action is required in three areas to improve provision of ECE across the country: (i) wider participation; (ii) better quality; and (iii) improved governance. Policy Actions: 1. Improvements in quality of ECE shall be based on a concept of holistic development of the child that provides a stimulating, interactive environment, including play, rather than a focus on regi mes that require rote learning and rigid achievement standards. 2. ECE age group shall be recognised as comprising 3 to 5 years. At least one year pre-primary education shall be provided by the State and universal access to ECE shall be ensured within the next ten years. 36 3. Provision of ECE shall be attached to pr imary schools which shall be provided with additional budget, teachers and assistants for this purpose. 4. For ECE teachers, a two-year specialised training in dealing with young children shall be a necessary requirement. 5. This training shall be on the basis of ECE revised National Curriculum. The curriculum and support material for ECE sh all take account of the cultural diversity of particular areas. 5.2 E LEMENTARY E DUCATION 94. Primary education is not a strong link in education in Pakistan. The Policy focuses attention on two large and critical problems fa cing the sector: (i) low participation and narrow base of the sector, and (ii) weak quality of provision. 95. Despite some progress in recent years, access ra tes remain low, as noted in Annex-_ A,. NER at 66% for primary are the lowest compar ed to the selected reference countries. Even though these 2005 rates have improved in 2006-07, Pa kistan still faces the risk of defaulting on EFA 2015 targets. The narrow base is further atte nuated through high drop out rates. The survival rate to Grade 5 is 72%. Of those who succeed in co mpleting Grade V, there is a further loss to the system through those not making the transition to the secondary level. Pakistan cannot afford to live with the narrow base in the perspective of l ong term economic and social development of the nation. Policy Actions: 1. All children, boys and girls, shall be brought inside school by the year 2015. 2. Official age for primary education shall be 6 to 10 years. The official age group for next levels of education sh all also change accordingly. 3. Government shall make efforts to prov ide the necessary financial resources to achieve the EFA goals. 4. Wherever feasible, primary schools sh all be upgraded to middle level. 5. International Development Partners shall be invited through a well-developed plan for expanding school facilities. After finishing your classes, you can play slots games at to have some fun. You might also win cash prizes. 6. High priority shall be paid to reducing th e drop-out rates. An important element of this effort should be to provide financia l and food support to children who drop out because of poverty. 7. Food based incentives shall be introdu ced to increase enrolment and improve retention and completion rates, especially for girls. 8. Schools shall be made more attractive for retaining the children by providing attractive learning environment, missing basic facilities and other measures. 9. Government shall establish at least one “Apna Ghar” residential school in each province to provide free high quality education facilities to poor students. 37 10. Every child, on admission in Grade I, shall be allotted a unique ID that will continue to remain with the child th roughout his or her academic career. 5.3 S ECONDARY AND HIGHER SECONDARY EDUCATION 96. The secondary and higher secondary school system prepares young people for life. It has two important roles in this respect – providing skills to the labour market, as many students leave formal schooling at this time; and providing inpu t to the tertiary system, for those who go on to this level of learning. The system does not pr ovide an adequate base for both these functions. Quite apart from the quality of instruction at this level, a central question that Pakistan education policy makers confront is the level of skill deve lopment and preparation that can be achieved by twelve years of school education as a terminal qualification. 97. The system as it exists has shortcomings in two main respects: it has a narrow base that leaves a large number of young people outside the system and the quality of skills it produces is not well matched with the needs of the labour ma rket. The policy actions needed to address these concerns include several that have been outlined in section 5.2 above d ealing with elementary education. The additional reform initiatives desc ribed below are specifically meant for secondary and upper secondary education. 98. Access and participation rates at this le vel of schooling in Pakistan are low in comparison to reference countries. Pakistan’s national average ratio of secondary to primary school is 1:6 but, in certain parts of the country, it reaches the high figure of 1:13. There is a clear need for expanding the provision. At the same time , efforts have to be made to cut the high drop out rates and induce more out of school youths back to the school system, particularly the girls whose participation is still very low. Policy Actions: 1. Provision shall be expanded, particularly in the rural areas and of schools dedicated for girls. Priority shall be given to those locations where the ratio of secondary schools is low. 2. Student support shall be increased to prevent students from dropping out of school for financial reasons. 3. Schools shall introduce more student-centred pedagogies. 4. Counselling facilities shall be made availabl e to students from the elementary level onwards in order to constructively utilize thei r energy, to deal w ith any displays of aggression amongst young students and to address any other psychological distress that a student may be in, by suggesting a suitable remedy 5. Life Skills-Based Education (LSBE) shall be promoted. 6. Sports activities shall be organized at th e Secondary and Higher Secondary Levels. 7. Counselling at higher secondary level must also address the career concerns of young students and encourage them to take up studies as per their aptitude other than the “accepted” fields of study, be it technical, vocational or any other area of study

Schooling shall also be made more attractive by adding community service programmes.

Grades XI and XII shall not be part of th e college level and shall be merged into the school level forming part of existing secondary schools, where needed and provision of necessary human and physical resources shall be ensured. This exercise shall be undertaken after a detaile d study of the failures of previous such efforts. 10. A system for ranking of primary and seconda ry educational institutions across the country shall be introduced with rankings based on result outcomes, extra- curricular activities and facilities provided to the students, in order to encourage healthy competition between schools.

To create an order for excellence in th e country, a “National Merit Programme” shall be introduced to award bright students