Significant reforms aimed at improving one of the biggest public education systems in the world will commence in early 2016, thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] signed today between the Government of the Punjab in Pakistan, and the British Council.
In the presence of a formal delegation led by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, The Minister of Education for Punjab, Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan signed the MoU on a visit to the British Council’s offices in London this week. The British Council has committed to greatly expand its existing Punjab Education and English Language Initiative (PEELI) with the overall aim of bringing world-class education to Punjab’s school system.
The British Council has been working with the Government of Punjab to reform and improve their in-service teacher education provision with the PEELI programme launched in 2013. Having successfully delivered almost 17,000 training days a year to approximately 5,000 Pakistani teachers and teacher educators, the programme will now be expanded from 2016 with the aim of delivering one million training days over the next three years, with 200,000 participants attending face-to-face training each year. This will contribute to improving the education of millions of Pakistani children.
Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, is home to over half of the country’s 180 million people. It has almost 11 million school children taught by over 300,000 teachers in about 50,000 schools. In 2009 the Government of Punjab extended the use of English as the medium of instruction in mathematics and science in all Punjab’s public schools. However, there was a great shortage of qualified teachers both in terms of subject and the ability to teach their subject in English.
Sir Ciarán Devane, the British Council’s Chief Executive said, “Locally, in Pakistan, the British Council has some six decades of hands-on experience and globally we are recognised as leaders and experts in education and English language. The success of PEELI is due to the synergy of these two factors, as well as our excellent relationship with the Government of Punjab. We are delighted to build on our successes so far and enter into a new and more ambitious phase of our efforts to support the development of education in Punjab. We believe that this is key to a more prosperous and secure future the peoples of both of our countries”.
Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, The Secretary for Schools in Punjab, added “The British Council has long been a valued friend and ally to us in our efforts to bring world-class education to Punjab and we welcome this new phase in our partnership.”
The Minister of Education also signed two further MoUs describing the intention of the Government of Punjab and the British Council to collaborate in order to bring benefits to the Punjab Examinations Commission (for school exams and student assessment), and the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board in order to address the need for stronger system-wide alignment.
The broad aims of these MOUs – which are likely to provide opportunities for the wider UK sector - are to:
1. Commission and/or conduct a review and needs analysis of PEC / PCTB and make recommendations relating to how these needs can be addressed;
2. Enhance the institutional capacity of PEC / PCTB to contribute to the achievement of the Chief Minister’s ambition for quality education in government schools in Punjab;
3. Establish systems to increase the integration and strengthen the collaboration between PEC / PCTB and other governmental bodies including those responsible for teacher development, curricula and textbooks, examinations and assessment in order to put in place the system-wide alignment necessary to maximise the effectiveness of the Chief Minister’s ambition; and
4. Embed sustainable and effective policies and procedures that reflect international best practice.