Education Minister in Pakistan
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood has announced the end of the National Education Ministry’s plan to introduce a new exam. This is part of a series of educational reforms Pakistan is undertaking to improve its education system. The current test, currently known as the Pakistan Qualification Examination System (PQS), is being replaced by a new set of nationally recognized academic assessments. While there will still be general examinations covering basic academic knowledge and comprehension, there will be four sets of tests for each subject, and a total of 44 subjects to be tested.
Education is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, which is why the reform effort is only now beginning. Although Khan and his team are confident that the new system will improve the quality of education in Pakistan, there is understandable skepticism among many educated professionals. Many fear that the move will simply replace one set of qualifications with another. This fear is completely unfounded; because this change does not amount to any structural change.
There is little doubt about the fact that education remains a priority for the PQS. For the past two decades, the PQS has been used as a major performance indicator by the Pakistan government and school authorities. It scores highly on international assessment and assessments, and ranks high even in academic terms. This means that the education ministry regards the PQS as a reliable yardstick for determining school quality.
But this yardstick itself is problematic. In the United States, the PQS is often used to compare school performance across states and districts. Unfortunately, the exam has no universal criteria and is widely used as a single measure for comparison across educational systems. In fact, there is a great deal of variation in the quality of performance between districts. This makes it difficult to conclude that any given school district is best.
Pakistan’s education reformers point out that the PQS lacks a universal standard because it only measures performance on reading, writing and mathematics, three areas of fundamental schooling. This means that the test cannot be compared across different subjects on a level playing field. In addition, the test is usually taken by children from very young ages, which severely limits its analytical power. Add to that the fact that the test has no set format and no nationally-accepted scoring rubric, and you have the perfect recipe for confusion and failure.
A key indicator of educational success in Pakistan has been the improvement of literacy rates over the past two decades. Between 1960 and 2021, the proportion of people who could not read a word or recognize a map continued to decline. The percentage of children suffering from learning disabilities also declined steadily. All this is remarkable, but it does not prove that the educational system is improving. In short, the PQS cannot be considered the single indicator of educational success.
Is the PQS the end of the educational testing system? No, but the education minister can no longer claim to be fully responsible for the performance of any educational institution in Pakistan. There are numerous indicators that need to be examined and measured in order to ensure the overall quality of education is improving. If this is happening on the national level, it is obvious that it is also improving at the educational level. That is why reform measures and reforms in the education sector are so important.
Education is a vast field involving many sectors. Education includes primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Unless the education minister understands that the ministry of education must be made more powerful and effective in order to tackle all the challenges on the educational front, no significant change can be seen. Education is the corner stone of a successful nation. Therefore, it is imperative that the education minister makes all possible efforts to improve the ministry’s performance.