May 4, 2017
Participants posing with the copies of the curriculum
The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFEPT), Islamabad, in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Project titled "Advancing Quality Alternative Learning (AQAL)", officially launched Curriculum for Alternative Learning Programme (ALP) on May 4, 2017.
The scope of curriculum can be termed as equivalent to primary formal education. It engages with the students through an accelerated learning framework; as a result of which, it has become possible to teach class one to five in a short time of 3.3 years as compared to the standard five years of primary school duration. It also recognizes and builds on to the prior learning of diverse range of potential learners/students including out-of-school children especially those who belong to poor socio-economic backgrounds, religious and ethnic minorities, dropout children, overage especially those who missed their early years of schooling, and children with mild physical and mental challenges.
This initiative is unique as it is for the first time that Federal Government has developed curriculum of non-formal basic education. It is also envisioned to help government in reaching out to 22.6 million out-of-school children, who also have the Right to Education under the article 25-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Engr. Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman chaired the ceremony while Chief Representative of the JICA was also present on this occasion. Representatives, staff members and participants from donor agencies, INGOs and NGOs were also present.
The ceremony was opened formally by the Secretary of MoFEPT and the JICA Chief Representative made welcome remarks to the participants. Dr. Dawood Shah Director AEPAM and Mr. Abid Gill Deputy Chief Advisor of AQAL project shared goals, objectives and salient features of the ALP curriculum as well as key strategies to implement the curriculum.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor (JEA) of the MoFEPT, stated that launching of ALP curriculum was certainly a historical achievement and signified the commitment of the Ministry to education and learning needs of diverse group of out-of-school children. He appreciated National Curriculum Council and JICA's assistance for this esteemed accomplishment. He further assured that, in line with the non-formal basic education curriculum, the Ministry also plans to develop relevant textbooks, assessment system and teacher's training for out-of-school children in Islamabad Capital Territory under Prime Minister's initiative of 100% enrollment.
Mrs. Razina Alam Khan, Chairperson of National Commission on Human Development and Mr. Abbas Ali Khan, Director General of Basic Education Community School emphasized that ALP curriculum and approach will be suitable for the Non-Formal Basic Education (NFBE) and feeder school programmes and accelerate progress to maximize enrollment of out-of-school children.
Mr. Nyi Nyi Thaung, Education Specialist UNESCO and Ms. Sadaf Zulfiqar, Education Specialist UNICEF stressed upon the utilization of ALP approach to proactively pursue enrollment of marginalized group of children and to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) # 4. They assured their continued support to promote ALP under larger NFBE approach as active members of NFE donors sub-group.
Mr. Haseeb Athar, Secretary Federal Education Ministry, stated that alterative learning as part of the Non-Formal Education is essential in bridging the in-school and out-of-school gap that has contributed in increasing number of literates in the country. He encouraged all the public and development sector actors to use the accelerated learning approach to attract out-of-school children and extend the right to education to all.
Mr. Tojo Yasuhiro, the Chief Representative of the JICA congratulated the Ministry and also expressed his pleasures of JICA's participation in this journey. The approved NFBE curriculum has certainly paved the way for non-formal education as an alternative learning option for children of Pakistan. Mr Tojo concluded his remarks by stating that literacy movements and non-formal basic education initiatives campaigns led by political leadership with ambitious targets of "access to all approach" have generated sustainable and tangible results for addressing the chronic issue of illiteracy. Some leading countries of our times that have translated this approach into a reality are Cuba, Cote de' Ivorie, India; and now I am adding to this list Pakistan as well.
Speaking on the occasion, Engr. Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman appreciated National Curriculum Council (NCC) for giving an option to those who generally remain excluded and unattended. He said the curriculum is foundation and has paved excellent ways to provide wide scale quality education. He further said that the Ministry will develop high quality textbooks, learning materials for teaching, systems for assessment and the training of teachers. He said the curriculum should be used in all areas across the country especially in rural and remote settlements.
The launching ceremony concluded with a vote of thanks by JICA together with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training.