Islamabad: Pakistan’s government has announced plans to register religious seminaries, and pay trained teachers at these seminaries, as part of its Madrasa Reforms Programme.
All seminary teachers who teach contemporary subjects would receive their salaries from the government, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood told a press conference.
The government has also introduced a new stream of matriculate education, called Matric Tech, he said.
The World Bank has agreed to pay US$450 million (Dh1.65 billion) for the reform project, the minister said, adding there were between 32,000 and 35,000 seminaries — of which 3,000 would be registered in the first year.
The registration of seminaries would be completed in four years, and the Director General of Religious Education (DGRE) will pay Rs17,000 (Dh403) a month in salaries and stipends to registered seminary teachers who teach contemporary education.
The press conference was held in the wake of a meeting of ministers for education from all the provinces with the federal minister.
In the preceding meeting all the education ministers discussed issues relating to streamlining the religious seminaries that are otherwise seen as nurseries for hardliners in the country.
They discussed their curriculum and decided that all 29 educational boards in the country would announce higher secondary school certificate results by August 15 so that students could have enough time to apply for admission to the universities of their choice.
The minister said it was decided that every seminary would appoint two teachers of its own choice to impart contemporary formal education to students.
The minister also said the federal government would help seminaries open bank accounts besides resolving the issues regarding visa for foreigners interested in enrolling there.
The minister said the federal government was neither opposed to the provincial autonomy guaranteed by 18th Constitutional Amendment nor would it interfere with it.
“Education will continue to be a provincial subject as guaranteed in the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The federal and the provincial governments are jointly working on education reforms, especially uniform curriculum, so decisions and moves in that respect will be acceptable to all,” he said.
The minister said uniform national curriculum, an indication of national spirit, would bring about an education system, which met the country’s current and future needs.
He said a uniform academic calendar had been put in place across the country, while all education boards had been asked to announce the results of intermediate exams by August 15, while the universities had been bound by their regulator, Higher Education Commission (HEC), to offer admissions only after September 15.
The minister said the centre had developed a comprehensive programme to enrol the out-of-school children and improve educational standards in provinces.