RIZWAN ASGHAR The New Education Policy (NEP) for the next decade has been approved by the Cabinet on September 9, 2009. As the subject of education is on the concurrent list of the constitution, so it falls within the domain of both federal and provincial governments. The federal government only proposes various plans and polices, including national curriculum, while the responsibility for its implementation lies with the provincial governments. According to the recently announced policy an inter-provincial forum of education ministers will supervise the implementation of reforms and address reservations of all provinces. After analysing this policy in retrospective terms, it stands out as clear as day that our successive governments consider it their heavenly ordained duty to map out various egalitarian policies which look good only on paper; but they meet utter failure when it comes to the implementation of these polices. Although the present education policy has a short chapter titled Implementation Framework on what has to be done, but nothing has been outlined in concrete terms that by whom, how and when a particular aim will be pursued. So as usual the present education policy does not contain any clear implementation plan and is also nothing more than a list of ambitious and lofty targets. Mismanagement of allocations and unwise use of resources have often hampered the efforts to improve the educational system in the past. A substantial portion of funds earmarked for the education department is not spent during the year and in the last days of the financial year there is a sudden splurge on unnecessary projects. In this policy, it has been promised that the literacy rate will be enhanced to 86 percent by 2015 and the budgetary allocation on education will be enhanced from 2 percent to 7 percent of total GDP. The record of the last 20 years shows us that the literacy rate in our country has increased at the rate of almost 1.07 percent per annum and population is increasing at the rate of 2 percent per annum. If the same pace continues, it will be next to impossible to reach the desired figures. Moreover, a predominantly huge portion of our annual budget is always allocated to defense. The policy makers have not made a mention of any clear mechanism as to how the government will be able to enhance budgetary allocation for education. The educational standard of public-sector schools will be lifted to match the level of good private schools and the deadline for this task is 2010. All primary schools will be upgraded to elementary schools. There will be uniform examination system across the country. Moreover, there will be free education up to Matric level. English will be introduced from grade one and it will also be the medium of instruction for science and mathematics from grade six. This step obviously shows the short-sightedness of policymakers that they are reluctant to impart education in the national language of the country. This is also one of the main reasons for the low literacy rate in our country - that a large number of students have to discontinue their education because they cannot pass papers of subject English. The government should pay immediate attention to this aspect and English should be only an optional subject. The policy spells out that the teachers of primary and secondary schools will require a minimum of Bachelor and Master degree respectively and their pays will be increased. There will be a Board of Education in every district. Moreover, there is a scheme of establishment of residential schools in order to provide good education to the poor students. The number of schools will be increased and each tehsil must have at least one such facility. The enrolment of students in the universities will be enhanced. In the new policy it has been mentioned that madrassah education will be brought at par with formal education. At this point again the policymakers are being over-ambitious. In madrassahs various necessary subjects like science or mathematics are not taught. Chapter IV of the new education policy clearly describes that Islamic Studies will be a compulsory subject from Class I to XII. The curriculum of Islamic Studies has been divided into five main parts - Al-Quran Al-Kareem; Imaniyaat and Ibaadat; Seerat-e-Tayyiba; Ethics and Good Behaviour, and Prominent Personalities of Islam. The first part includes the reading of the Holy Quran (Nazira), memorising selected small Suras of the Holy Quran (Hifz), the memorisation of the translation of selected small Suras and the Quranic supplications. The spread of technical education is very important for the development of a country, but the said policy has outlined nothing to improve the sorry state of technical education in the country. It seems that the policymakers have made the new education policy while living in ivory towers and they are quite unaware of the practical situation. In order to achieve the desired results the government must keep in mind the ground realities. The higher authorities have claimed that they have to propose a new education policy as the previous policy has become outdated. But it remains to be seen whether the government can 'walk its 'talk. The writer is a freelance columnist. E-mail: rizwanasghar7@yahoo.com