Experts stress ‘education in emergencies’ in Pakistan


Karachi: Recent conflicts – Pakistan hosts the largest number of refugees in the world – and natural disasters have worsened Pakistan’s ongoing educational crisis affecting access and the provision of quality education.

In such a scenario, more concerted efforts are needed to frame concrete policies and procedures for managing education in emergency situations at the federal, provincial and local government levels.

This was the message delivered by experts at the workshop launching a policy brief “Transforming Pedagogies: Emerging Contexts and Texts of Teaching Learning” by the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development with support from the Department for International Development, UK.

Key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including governments, NGOs, educational institutions, scholars, researchers and teachers analyzed the arguments presented in the brief to decide a way forward.

“Emergencies can also be used as a window of opportunity to address the existing educational concerns in affected areas. Our disaster response plans should include how to address psychological concerns, and how to return to normalcy,” said Dr Dilshad Ashraf, the moderator and an associate professor at AKU-IED.

“Teacher training programmes need to include interventions strategies such as counseling as a first step to reaching out to children in affected circumstances,” she added.

Representatives from the Government of Sindh informed that after the 18th Constitutional amendment, their government has taken a step forward in recognizing the issues of education in emergencies through the recently launched Sindh Education Sector Plan 2014. The plan has laid policy emphasis on developing the capacity of educational managers, school management committees and teachers.

However, topics related to emergencies have not been integrated into the national curriculum as proposed by the National Education Policy 2009. The current national curriculum was created in 2006 and has not been updated since.

Referring to the 19 minimum standards of International Network for Education in Emergencies, experts stressed that Pakistan can greatly benefit if these standards are incorporated in the National Disaster Response Plan. The standards are organized in five domains, including foundational standards, access and learning environment, teaching and learning, teachers and other education personnel and education policy.

Other speakers included Dr Ayesha Bashiruddin, Acting Director and Head, Research and Policy Studies, AKU-IED; Ghulam Nabi, Deputy Director, Reform Support Unit, Education and Literacy Department, Government of Sindh; Ali Effendi, Senior Programme Officer Education, Aga Khan Foundation; Sadiqa Salahuddin, Executive Director, Indus Resource Centre; Dr Mohammad Memon, Professor, AKU-IED; and Aziz Kabani, Managing Director, Sindh Education Foundation.

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