Secondary Education in the Light of Education Policy 2009

“Secondary education (IX – XII) is an important sub-sector of the entire educational system. On the one hand, it provides the middle level workforce for the economy and on other, it acts as a feeder for the higher levels of education, which is expected to produce quality professionals in different fields, hinges on the quality of secondary education.  This level of education, therefore, needs to be revamped in such a way that it prepares young men and women for the pursuit of higher education as well as prepare them to adjust to their practical lives meaningfully and productively.”
(National Education Policy 1998-2010 p-37) 

Importance of Secondary Education:

Its importance is very clear from the constitution. It is obligatory on state to provide free & compulsory secondary education to the people of Pakistan.
Constitution of Pakistan 1973 says,
State shall be responsible for:
“…eradication of illiteracy and provision of free and compulsory education up to secondary level, within minimum possible time”
(Article 37-B, 1973 Constitution of Pakistan)
According to this article it is our constitutional right and govt. is duty bound to provide free and compulsory education up to secondary level. There is no question of ignoring it. Ignoring it would rather mean to violate this article of constitution. 
The stage of secondary education is a very crucial where the student enters adolescence, the period of stress and strain. This period needs careful handling of the stuff available to us. We have sufficient time mould them properly & train them positively. This is the stage where they can easily be derailed by any unwanted forces. It is very essential to retain them in schools for better future. How to encourage them and provide such an education which would be fruitful for them after completing this stage? This requires careful planning & educational policy based on real ground situation close to our own social requirements and job market which would also need implementation in the real sense.
1.    To understand the provision for secondary education in the new proposed draft of education policy 2009.
2.    Highlight the issues in secondary education.
3.    Share the information regarding current status of this stage.
4.    Suggest measures to overcome these problems.
Secondary Education according to New Proposed Education Policy 2009:

“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 input to the tertiary system, for those who go on to this level of learning. The policy question is, does the system provide 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 must confront is whether the level of skill development and preparation that can be achieved by twelve years of school education is sufficient as a terminal qualification.
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 market. The policy actions needed to address these concerns include several that have been outlined in section 5.2 of education policy dealing with elementary education. The additional reform initiatives described below are specifically meant for secondary and upper secondary education.
Access and participation rates at this level 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 dropout 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 students’ centered pedagogies.
4. Counseling facilities shall be made available to students from the elementary level onwards in order to constructively utilize their energy, to deal with 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. Counseling 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
6. Schooling shall also be made more attractive by adding community service programmes.
7. Grade 11 and 12 shall not be part of the college level and shall be merged into the school level forming part of school education.
8. A system for ranking of primary and secondary educational institutions across the country shall be introduced with rankings based on result outcomes, extracurricular activities and facilities provided to the students, in order to encourage healthy competition between schools.
9. to create an order for excellence in the country, a “National Merit Programme” shall be introduced to award bright students.”
(Draft of New Education Policy 2009)
An Analysis:
Secondary Education performs two functions:
  1. Provides Input to tertiary education
  2. Provides skills to labour markets
Does it provide adequate base for both of these functions? Can it be called as skilled terminal stage?
Our system has a narrow base which leaves most of our youngsters outside this system. Secondly it does not provide skills matched to labour market.
This is the need of the hour to address these two issues in our education policy at this stage.
Ratio of secondary education to primary education is 1:6 and in some areas 1:13 and is very low in case of girls education.
We have to minimise this gap, stop dropout and increase enrolment.
Policy Actions:
1.    Priority would be given to the areas having low ratio in secondary education especially for girls. The questions arise how would we get positive results? What would be the mode & source of motivation? This needs elaboration.

2.    Increasing students’ support by providing financial assistance in order to stop students from dropping out. A very humanitarian action. Would it be possible for such a large number without allocating more budgets more than 1.25 – 2 plus %?

3.    School shall introduce more students’ centered pedagogies. Very nice action. How is it possible to do it in the current system of education which is exam centered & result based and does not take care of other aspects? Uniform timetable for activities would be needed .How is it possible in existing time frame of timetable?

4.    Career counseling at Secondary & Higher Secondary Schools according to the aptitudes of students in order to save them from psychological distress. This action if taken would be a positive improvement. We don’t such development and I think it would be a fantasy.

5.    Schooling would be made attractive by adding community service programmes. If implemented would provide better environment. May ALLAH give us power to fulfill such commitment?

6.    Grade 11 & 12 would not be a part college and would merge into the school level forming part of school education. The citizens would get a little bit higher education at their doorsteps. It is the need of the hour. A very nice suggestion if implemented.

7.    Ranking of schools on the basis of result outcomes. This would encourage unfair means for competition. This should be rather based on learning outcomes plus other co-curricular activities keeping in view the provided facilities. I think it would be very difficult task. Would we be able to provide facilities to all schools on the same footings?  Who would decide the standards keeping in view the ground realities?
  1. National Merit Programme would be introduced to award bright students. Nice action for motivation. Would it be realised? It is another question mark in this policy.
Keeping in view the in the previous education policies, it is necessary to know the challenges in this field, understand the ground reality and suggest measures for improvement.
Key Challenges in Secondary Education in Pakistan
  1. Access (enrolment, institutions)
  2. Regional differences
  3. Financing (share of budget)
  4. Quality (content of curriculum, choice of subjects, teachers, pass rates)
  5. Ongoing reforms and future reform areas
Current Situation of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education (Facts & Figures)
(Report Card: Literacy in Pakistan)
PSLM (2006-07) - Statistics Division, GoP
Overall, 45% population (10+) is illiterate, and
58% Women cannot read and write
70% Rural women are illiterate
76% Rural women in NWFP (KP) are illiterate
84% Rural women in Sind cannot read and write
85% Rural women in Baluchistan are illiterate
80% literacy among males in urban Sind vs. 15% literacy among females in rural Baluchistan
PSLM (2005-06) -Statistics Division, GoP
32 districts with literacy rate below 40%
56 districts with more than 70% illiterate women
Source: Provincial Comparison of Rural Female Literacy (Statistical Survey 2006-07)

Statistical Survey 2006-07   

Asian Map

Human  Development

Strategy for Pakistan

Pre-conditions for Success of Literacy Programmes
  1. Vision:
    1. Literacy programmes based on an agenda of social change  including functional literacy/income generation skills – learners cannot be attracted just for alphabets-” Literacy for a cause”
    2. Including post-literacy and continuing education: beyond basic literacy- mainstreaming neo-literates and NFBE pass outs with formal education  - continuing education
    3. Leadership: literacy movement demands leadership, not merely the funds
  2. Organizational structure: expertise for training, material development, research & evaluation
  3. Consistent policy and approach
A Strategy for Pakistan
  1. A vision: a national framework developed: consistent policy on adult literacy (Legislation, Parliament Resolution, strengthening provisions for Adult Literacy and NFBE in new National Education Policy)
  2. A commitment: political leadership - Ministers, Parliamentarians, and political parties support and lead literacy programmes at various levels
  3. Partnerships: joint Federal and Provincial agreements/ coordination/monitoring structures and processes
  4. Guaranteed Financial Resources: Consistent flow of financial resources – x % of education budget (?) – matching grants to provinces
  5. Clear Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly spelling out role and responsibilities of Federal Govt., Provincial Govts., and District Govts.
  6. A strong Professional base: An Institute or Resource Centre for technical tasks like training, material development, research etc.
Focused Approach
  1. Priority:
    1. Out of School Youth (10-25)
    2. Female Literacy programmes

  1. Modalities:
    1. NFBE: Non-formal Basic Education Centers for 6-15 years out of school children and youth
    2. Post Literacy: Making literacy meaningful, post literacy phase to be added, mobile libraries, reading rooms etc.
    3. ECE: Linking female literacy or Mother’s Literacy  with Early Childhood Education

LIFE: UNESCO support for Literacy
  1. LIFE (Literacy Initiative for Empowerment) launched by UNESCO in 36 countries- with literacy rate below 50% or illiterate population above 10 million
  2. Country Action Plan for Literacy: Pakistan has committed for LIFE - including launching of a national literacy programme
  3. Technical Assistance: UNESCO is providing support to Pakistan for formulation of a policy on literacy and capacity development
A basis for success!
  1. Rich experience! Not from zero!
  2. A National Literacy Curriculum (2007), approved and launched by the Ministry of Education
  3. Literacy materials: Literacy primers and post literacy readers produced by NCHD, Institute of Mass Education (AIOU), MoE, UNESCO, and NGOs
  4. Trained human resources available with NCHD, National Education Foundation, provincial Directorates of Literacy and NFE, and NGOs
  5. A Joint UN Programme in Education (2009-10): Literacy and NFBE as part of the 2-year programme of cooperation agreed between UN and Govt. of Pakistan
  6. Policy comment through legislation a must for sustainability and institutionalization of literacy programmes
What is missing?
  1. Proper allocation of budget
  2. A consistent policy and leadership
  3. Commitment for achieving goals & fulfilment of promises
To succeed in formulating a clear strategy and mobilization, strong leadership for Literacy with consistency in policies is essential.

1.      National Education Policy 1998-2010, p-37
2.      Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Article 37-B
3.      Draft of National Education Policy 2009
4.      PSLM (2006-7)- statistical Division Government of Pakistan
5.      PSLM (2005-6)- statistical Division Government of Pakistan
6.      Provincial Comparison of Rural Female Literacy, Statistical Survey 2006-07
7.      Census Reports and projections for 2006-07
8.      Education For All Development Index (EDI) for 129 countries- GMR 2009
9.      Economic Survey (2002-2003) – Finance Division – Government of Pakistan, Page 167, Table 11.5 and Economic Survey of Pakistan 2005-06, and EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008, 2009, and other related documents of Govt. of Pakistan
10.  Human Development Report 2007-08 and UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009
11.  PRSP II, page 316