2003 November 10 Monday
US, Pakistani Officials Meet Over Madrassah Schools Issue

Pakistan's Federal Education Minister Zubaida Jalal has just made a visit to Washington DC to meet with many top Bush Administration officials including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice along with members of Congress. The Washington Times has the best coverage of her visit.

Mrs. Jalal said that only 2 percent to 3 percent of the madrassas pose political problems, not so much for their Islamic-centered programs but because they are used as recruiting centers for the fundamentalist groups that finance them.

The education minister estimated that there were some 15,000 to 20,000 madrassas across the country only about half of which are even registered with the Islamic educational foundations. The total number of students is about 1.5 million.

The Pakistanis don't have enough money to move all the kids out of religious schools. Plus, the government doesn't want to anger all the religious leaders by doing so. Therefore expect a slow rate of change.

In a measure of the seriousness with which the Bush Administration takes the Madrassah schools as recruiting grounds for terrorists when Mrs. Jalal arrived at the Pentagon she got an honor guard and escort by Paul Wolfowitz. Mrs. Jalal expects changes to Pakistani education to come only very slowly.

"I briefed them about the committed measures being made by Pakistan to extend quality education, with stress on self-generating income and element of jobs." Pakistan Ambassador, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi was also present. Of the targets, she said "no miracle of instant changes could be claimed, while the objective is to make a positive dent in our educational system to make it skill and job-oriented, modern and moderate."

"In any case, the target is the next 10 to 15 years, if we are talking of mindset and change of attitude, it could be visible after as many years, and not within two to three years. Basically, it is the next generation we are talking about." "The target child is one who enters school or madressah today."

The article is not clear on the time-table but it sounds like the Bush Administration has promised $600 million in US aid for changing education in Pakistan.

Jalal also lobbied for more student visas to America for Pakistani students.

...during her recent meetings with senior US officials she apprised them of the difficulties Pakistani nationals, particularly those between 18 and 45 years, were facing with respect to their visa applications. The education minister said the US officials assured her that they were working on proposals to allow more flexibility to Pakistani nationals.

Sounds like the US officials are going to increase the number of student visas from Pakistan in order to give something to the Pakistanis in exchange for schools reform.

Half of all Pakistani students do not go beyond primary school.

The Prime Minister appreciated the vision of Education Sector Reforms (ESR) 2001-05 and called for its implementation in true letter and spirit. The Minister for Education Zubaida Jalal in her presentation said that the ESR envisages increase in literacy level from 40% to 60%, gross primary enrolment from 84% to 100%, net primary enrolment from 66% to 76%, middle enrolment from 47.5% to 55%, secondary enrolment from 29.5% to 40% and higher education from 2.6% to 5%.

If secondary enrollment is the equivalent of American high schools and middle enrollment is like junior high then it sounds like in Pakistan most kids do not even attend junior high schools for 7th or 8th grade. Pakistan's education system sounds like it is as backward as Mexico's.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 November 10 04:21 PM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Nafees said at March 4, 2004 9:13 AM:

plz tell me the paper of class 9th.

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