The Pandemic and the Floating Education!

                                                          Dr. Muhammad Shafiq

The writer is a PhD Technology Management, and associated with SZABIST, Islamabad. He can be reached at dr.shafiq@szabist-isb.edu.pk          

The affects of COVID-19 on the society are immense, and it will require a continuous effort and investigation in the coming years to exactly see scales of these impacts. Education sector is probably the most severely hampered by the pandemic. The waves of impact not only have jolted the educational institutions and academics, but students have also been severely influenced by it. Large institutions may have come up with solutions and resources to streamline and revive in upcoming challenges, though small institutions seem to bear the burnt of the pandemic.

The impacts on the teachers are being addressed in many international and national journals. It is quite clear the way distanced or remote learning have altered the way of the operations in an institute from university to the elementary school. Moreover, the psychological impact of academicians because of online teaching are immense; starting from the lecture delivery till online student assessments. A faculty engaged in teaching from years through the conventional class and board method finds it quite difficult to suddenly move to online tools and multimedia. It becomes even more complicated when numerical subjects are involved especially with the elementary classes. Furthermore, the lecture recording and monitoring further seems to impact the confidence of the academics, who may have been brilliant subject teachers, but have diverse methods of engaging students including discussions and debates. Last but not the least bothering element is the assessments of the students for the teachers. Though universities have been quite dynamic to move towards experiential learning and interactive sessions for students’ assessment, it is still and area of concern for the many faculty members who either rooted in the conventional methods or their institutions are slow to adopt and implement new and dynamic approaches.

The most affected and probably the most neglected segment from the education sector, because of the pandemic is the student. These students are unfortunately even the most unaware of the psychological and cognition effects of the uncertain situation, causing on them. These students aged between 4 to 22 are in unseen situation where they are away from their friends, and playgrounds, away from their regular on campus activities, away from their industrial trips, and industrial projects are just waiting for tomorrow.

A gallant effort has to be made to investigate the gaps, this covid has placed on the students, academics and especially small institutions. These students are our tomorrow, while teachers shape tomorrow. And every section of education and nation has to contribute to it, especially the policy makers and the government. This is not only our responsibility but our future too. 

Ex-Editor Nida-i-Millat passes away

Anisur Rahman Khan

Corporate Ambassador/ISLAMABAD, March 2, 2021. Anisur Rahman Khan, Lahore-based senior journalist, TV analyst, blogger and ex-editor of Nida-i-Millat magazine of Nawa-i-Waqt group, passed away in Lahore due to blood-clot in brain. He will be buried in Lahore today. His close friend and neighbour Sajid Hussain Shah can be contacted for more information at his number 0321-8487400.

Two days ago, Anis Khan felt that his condition was deteriorating. He was driving his car near Bhatta-Chowk Lahore at that time. He left his car near Police Barricade and told policemen that he was not feeling well. He gave keys of his car to policemen, who immediately called 1122. The 1122 cops checked blood pressure and heart-beat and found both normal, but Khan was not feeling well and he was taken to National Hospital. After MRI, doctors found a blood clot in his brain and removed the clot with operation. Unfortunately, Anis Khan could not survive as his heart-beat stopped a day after operation. Doctors pumped his heart for 45 minutes, but they could not save his life.

Anis Khan remained editor with Nida-i-Millat magazine of Nawa-i-Waqt group for more than 15 years in Lahore.

IMF to provide another $500 million to Pakistan

  • IMF staff and the Pakistani authorities have reached an agreement on a package of measures to complete second to fifth reviews of the authorities’ reform program supported by the IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF). Pending approval of the Executive Board, the reviews’ completion would lead to release of around US$500 million from IMF bail out package. The package strikes an appropriate balance between supporting the economy, ensuring debt sustainability, and advancing structural reform. The COVID-19 shock temporarily disrupted Pakistan’s progress under the EFF-supported program. However, the authorities’ policies and allowing higher than expected COVID-related social spending, have been critical in supporting the economy and saving lives and households. The Pakistani authorities remain committed to ambitious policy actions and structural reforms to strengthen economic resilience, advance sustainable growth, and achieve the EFF’s medium-term objectives.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, concluded virtual discussions with the Pakistani authorities and reached a staff-level agreement on the second to fifth reviews of the authorities’ reform program supported by the IMF 39-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement for the amount of SDR 4,268 million, about US$6 billion. This agreement is subject to the approval of the IMF’s Executive Board. The reviews’ completion would release around US$500 million. At the end of the discussions, Mr. Ramirez Rigo issued the following statement:

“The policies and reforms implemented by the Pakistani authorities prior to the COVID-19 shock had started to reduce economic imbalances and set the conditions for improving economic performance. Most of the targets under the EFF-supported program were on track to be met. However, the pandemic disrupted these improvements and required a shift in authorities’ priorities towards saving lives and supporting households and businesses. To a large extent, the authorities’ response was enabled by the fiscal and monetary policy gains attained in the first nine months of FY2020. Aside from health containment measures, this included a temporary fiscal stimulus, a large expansion of the social safety net, monetary policy support and targeted financial initiatives. These were supported by sizeable emergency financing from the international community, including from the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). 

“As result of the authorities’ actions, the COVID-19 first wave started to abate over the 2020 summer and the impact on the economy was significantly reduced. The external current account improved, due to stronger-than-expected remittances, import compression, and a mild export recovery. High-frequency economic data also started to point to a recovery. Considering these improvements, the economy is projected to expand by 1.5 percent in FY2021 from the -0.4 percent in FY2020. Still, with the COVID-19 second wave still unfolding around the world, the outlook is subject to a high level of uncertainty and downside risks. 

“The Covid-19 shock has required a careful recalibration of the macroeconomic policy mix, the reforms calendar, and the EFF review schedule. Against this background, the authorities have formulated a package of measures that strikes an appropriate balance between supporting the economy, ensuring debt sustainability, and advancing structural reforms. The fiscal strategy remains anchored by the sustainable primary deficit of FY2021 budget and allows for higher-than-expected COVID-related and social spending to minimize the short-term impact on growth and the most vulnerable. The targets are supported by careful spending management and revenue measures, including reforms of corporate taxation to make it fairer and more transparent. The power sector’s strategy aims at financial viability, through management improvements, cost reductions, and adjustments in tariffs and subsidies calibrated to attenuate social and sectoral impacts.   

Corporate Ambassador offers plagiarism-free Content Writing Services

Islamabad/Karachi/Lahore. Weekly Corporate Ambassador has started offering content writing services for academic, corporate and other fields. With more than 20 years’ experience of content writing/editing in English and exposure in international writing/editing, I have developed a team of professionals Writers, Editors, and Professors to provide plagiarism-free content such as Thesis, Research Papers, Reports, Essays, Reflections, Critical Reviews. Some of the team members are doing supervision of M.Phil and Ph.D thesis in different universities in Pakistan and abroad. Individuals facing problem in editing and managing plagiarism of their content can also contact us.

Interested individuals and organizations can get more information by sending an email to Mr Javed Mahmood, Editor Weekly Corporate Ambassador, ex-Resident Editor daily The Nation, Karachi and author of my book “Who Bankrupted Pakistan,” written in April 2001. As a senior journalist, in the past I have been working with daily The Muslim, Business Recorder, Daily Times, daily The Nation and a couple of other Pakistani newspapers. Since 2009, I have been working with Washington-based organizations as Freelance Writer and Editor.

For further details, please email at: jchoudhry63@gmail.com or send a message at WhatsApp 923343939029 for International users and 0334-3939029 for Pakistanis.

Mortal Man with Immortal Dreams

A Critical Review of the novel “Great Expectations”

By Kaniz Fatima/Karachi

Before proceeding further, there are few reasons which attract me to read this novel. This novel teaches us being kind even if you don’t know anyone try to be kind with that person. This novel has suspense, this novel makes you laugh, cry, scares you, makes you feel compassion, disgust also makes you feel love. This novel has got everything, Charles Dicken has written it in such a beautiful manner that you can feel each emotion clearly. Pip’s expectations to become a gentleman, his love for a girl is the main reason to read this novel. Miss Havisham is another reason who lives in her past and wants to take revenge and also a mysterious person who wants to help Pip to achieve his goal.

The novel starts with the narrator Pip, a little young boy who is standing in a churchyard of the village’s Marshes, seeing the gravestones (with teary eyes) of his parents, who died soon after his birth, the boy suddenly gets afraid by a voice who intimidates him to cut his throat if he doesn’t stop crying. The man was in a prisoner dress with no money, he engulf the piece of bread which falls from Pip’s hand and starts asking question about Pip’s family. Pip tells him that he is an orphan and lives with his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, the wife of a blacksmith (she is a cruel, loud and upbraid lady who use to beat and scold Pip) and Mr. Joe Gargery (who is a kind and equal to a parental figure) and their house is a mile away from church. The man tells Pip if he wants to live he’ll have to bring food and a file for him. Pip agrees and asks him to meet next morning at the same place. Pip runs to home and steels a bread from the table and next morning Pip steels a file and a pie and goes to give it to the man. Pip comes back home safely thinks of not going back to the stranger next morning, but he goes and gives him food and file.

Consequently, the police catches the man and takes him along with them. Pip goes to Mr. Wopsle’s great aunt school and also gets some basic lessons from Biddy, who works for Mr. Wopsle, and she is an orphan too. Mrs. Joe announce that Pip is going to play for Miss Havisham (a rich and gloomy lady, who lives outside the village in Satis house). Pip goes to her with Uncle Pumblechook. Pip meets a beautiful young girl Estella (a pretty and rude girl) who leads him to a dark house with a candle, he meets Miss Havisham and then she calls Estella to play with him, Estella insults him to be a common man and refused to play him but later she plays and insults his hands and thick boots. This breaks Pip hearts, he cries and later ate lunch at the yard and goes back to his home. He then decides to take help from Biddy, and she gives him few books which he starts reading. Pip returns to Miss Havisham’s house as directed, the house seems full of people it was Miss Havisham birthday, the cake was surrounded by rats as soon the guest leaves. Miss Havisham asks Estella and Pip to play cards after that she asks Pip to visit the yard. Pip was about to leave where Estella tells him if he wants to kiss her on her checks he can, Pip kissed her checks and leaves. Miss Havisham calls Joe and gives him money of Pip’s services and buys his agreement as a blacksmith. Pip describes his feeling of being ashamed of his home, trade and he wants to become uncommon and gentle man. Pip starts learning more from Biddy and he then teaches it to Joe. After a year Pip goes to meet Miss Havisham to thank her for paying money for his teaching of blacksmith, where he comes to know that Estella has been sent abroad for education. He returns home with sadness where group of group stands worriedly, he comes inside and sees his sister lying unconscious. Pip’s sister has suffered some serious brain damage due to which she has lost her voice too much. Biddy is appointed as her caretaker. Biddy loves Pip but Pip loves Estella.

After 4 years a man (Mr. Joggers, a lawyer) comes to Joe and offers a job for Pip to London, he tells Joe that Pip wants to become a gentleman and has great expectations. Pip agrees and joggers tells him that he will never try to discover his sponsor he agrees and goes London where he knows a lot of truth about each character from  Herbert (the boy whom Pip met and fought at the yard of Miss Havisham). Herbert tells Pip about Miss Havisham life’s tragedy (the man she wanted to marry ditched her on their wedding day) and he also knows about the relatives that live with Miss Havisham. Pip misbehaves with Joe which hurts him then Pip goes back to his hometown to see Estella, when he misunderstands that Miss Havisham is his benefactor and she wants him to marry Estella.

As the time passes he comes to know that Miss Havisham is using Estella for her revenge from all the man and Estella has become so cold that she doesn’t even feel love for her mother. Furthermore, he learned that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor but Magwitch (the same old criminal whom Pip meets at the beginning of the novel and gave him food and file) is his benefactor and he comes London to meet him by risking his life. At first Pip was not happy and denied to accept his money but also had soft corner for him, in this process he found out Estella not to be the daughter of Miss Havisham but the daughter of Magwitch and Jagger’s servant (tigress). Pip tried to help Magwitch to escape from London but failed as police came and caught him. In Magwitch last days Pip told him about his daughter. Pip also visited Miss Havisham where she was not happy about her deeds and felt Pip’s pain as she once gone through the same heart break, she apologized Pip forgave her and left the place and Miss Havisham was somehow was caught by the fire. Estella married Drummle.

Pip realized his mistake because when he fell ill, Joe was the one who was taking care of him, he decided to go to him and ask forgiveness and also ask biddy to marry him but when he reached there it was Biddy and Joe’s wedding day. He wished them asked forgiveness, they gave it to him happily. Eleven years passed Pip visited Joe & Biddy and their son, Pip was living with Herbert and his life (Clara), he visited Miss Havisham house where he saw Estella, her husband treated her badly and recently died. Estella asks forgiveness from Pip, Pip forgave her and they both walked out of the garden.

(The writer is a first semester student at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Karachi and has received prize for this assignment, the Review).

Pakistan gets over 2000 American Cows

Islamabad/Corporate Ambassador. Pakistan has received more than 2000 cows from the United States. A shipment of 2,078 U.S. cattle arrived at the port of Karachi on January 27, 2021.  As a result of the strong partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pakistan dairy sector, cattle shipments from the United States continue to supply Pakistan with high-quality bovine stock for its dairy and beef herds. 

Roughly 95 percent of the cattle in this year’s first shipment are U.S. Holstein dairy cattle, which, thanks to U.S. livestock genetics, produce milk yields that are substantially higher than Holsteins imported from other countries.  The remaining animals are Jersey dairy cattle, noted for their high milk fat content, and Braham beef cattle, noted for their high-quality beef.  All breeds have the genetic potential to adapt to Pakistan’s climate.  At least two more shipments of U.S. cattle are expected to arrive before the end of March 2021, when the cattle shipping season closes, US Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement issued on Feb 1. 

Pakistan’s demand for milk is increasing, and the introduction of U.S. dairy cows is helping Pakistan reduce the gap between milk demand and supply, thereby contributing significantly to ensuring sustainable food security in the country. Agriculture is Pakistan’s second-largest economic sector, accounting for nearly 20 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2019-2020.  It remains by far the largest employer, accounting for nearly 40 percent of Pakistan’s labor force. 

For the nearly 63 percent of the Pakistani population living in rural areas, agriculture is a vital part of their daily life.  The U.S. government partners with Pakistani scientists and farmers to improve agricultural productivity.  The U.S. government has also supported the development of a model dairy farm at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Pattoki Campus, near Lahore, and to familiarize the Pakistani dairy sector about the unique characteristics of the U.S. cattle breeds that have been imported into Pakistan.

Yousaf Baig Mirza acquires Daily Times for 10 Years

Former Managing Director of PTV and Founder of Abb Tak TV Channel, Yousaf Baig Mirza, famous as YBM, has acquired Daily Times for 10 years.

According to sources, Mr YBM will manage all the affairs of this famous newspapers such as its marketing, business, editorial team, printing, hiring/firing. He, however, will share a certain amount of profit/income with owners of Daily Times (family members of slained Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Yousaf Baig Mirza is famous of Icon of branding/marketing and running top media entities. Currently, he is founder of famous TV channel, Abb Tak.

We hope that YBM will try his best to revive Daily Times in a professional manner to uphold his image in the marketing and branding media world in the country.

NBP reports record Rs26B PAT in 9 months

NBP joins PINKtober campaign to create Breast Cancer Awareness.

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The Board of Directors of National Bank of Pakistan “the Bank” in its meeting held on October 27, 2020 approved the condensed interim financial statements of the Bank for the period ended September 30, 2020. With strong growth in core earnings, the Bank recorded excellent results and reported unconsolidated profit after tax of PKR 26.1 billion, up by PKR 9.8 bn or 60% compared to the corresponding period last year. Earnings per share increased to Rs. 12.28 against Rs. 7.68 of Sep ’19 and Return on Assets and Return on Equity improved from 0.7% and 14.0% in Sep ’19 to 1.2% and 19.7% respectively in the nine months period ended September 30, 2020.


During the period, the Bank earned gross mark-up/interest income of PKR 206.0 bn (+23.1% YoY), with Investments contributing PKR 124.9 bn (+49.5% YoY) and Loans & Advances generating PKR 78.0 bn (+0.6% YoY). The average interest-bearing liabilities increased 17.5% to PKR 2,458.5 bn and total cost of funds increased to PKR 126.2 bn (+11.1% YoY). However, the cost of deposits dropped by 46 bps to 5.57% for 9M ’20 (9M ’19: 6.03%). Overall, net mark-up/interest income closed at PKR 79.8 bn (+48.2% YoY). The Bank generated non mark-up income of PKR 27.7 bn (Sep ’19: PKR 25.6 bn) constituting 25.8% of the total income (Sep ’19:32.2%). Accordingly, total revenue closed 35.4% higher at PKR 107.6 bn.
Operating expenses of the Bank increased 8.8% YoY to PKR 45.0 bn. However, the Bank’s cost-to-income ratio improved to 41.8% as against 52.1% for the same period last year. NPLs increased during the current nine month by PKR 24.0 bn to PKR 172.7 bn. The Bank follows a prudent approach to strengthening the balance sheet by maintaining a robust level of provisions. Provision charge of PKR 21.8 bn (Sep ’19: PKR 5.9 bn) was created during the period, increasing total provisions to PKR 167.8 bn that translates into a coverage ratio of 97.2%.
The Bank’s balance sheet stood at PKR 2,783.5 bn which is 10.9% lower than the PKR 3,124.4 bn at December 31, 2019. This drop is mainly because the Bank reduced its money market borrowings by PKR 329.16 bn in line with its funding & liquidity position. Investments, that constitute the bulk of the asset-mix, dropped marginally by 4.9% to PKR 1,368.4 bn. Due to reduced private sector credit demand and some seasonal adjustments, net advances also registered a decline of 11.5% over Dec ’19 level and closed at PKR 892.6 bn. On the liabilities side, deposits remained stable throughout the period and closed at PKR 2,174.9 bn, marginally 1.1% down YoY. The Bank’s Liquidity Coverage and Net Stable Funding Ratio stood at 182% and 263%, comfortably above the statutory requirement of 100%. Also, CASA ratio improved to 83.0% from 81.8% at the year-end 2019.

Higher profitability, coupled with reduction in required conservation buffers as well as total RWAs, has improved the Bank’s Tier-1 capital adequacy ratio to 15.68% (Dec ’19: 12.11%) and the total capital adequacy ratio (CAR) to 20.75% (Dec ’19: 15.48%). In June 2020, VIS Credit Rating and PACRA Credit Rating reaffirmed the Bank’s credit rating as “AAA” (Triple AAA), the highest credit rating awarded by the rating company for a bank in Pakistan.
In recognition of the successful deals and innovative initiatives that have made a positive impact for its clients, the Bank was recently awarded two prestigious awards i.e. ‘Corporate Client Initiative of the Year–Pakistan’ and ‘The Innovative Deal of the Year–Pakistan’ by Asian Banking & Finance Magazine. Given its systemically important role in Pakistan’s financial and business ecosystem, NBP is endeavouring to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 on individuals and businesses by extending appropriate financial solutions to the communities it serves. Strengthening its resilience to shocks, the Bank continues to set aside high levels of provisions. The Bank’s business strategy encompasses inclusive development through reaching and supporting the underserved sectors including SME, Microfinance, Agriculture Finance and Housing Micro-Finance on a priority basis.

Despite corona-crisis NBP reports 37pc growth in profit after tax for 1st Half of 2020

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Despite crisis triggered by corona, the National Bank of Pakistan has reported 37 percent increase in post-tax profit during first half of 2020.

With an impressive growth in core earnings, the Bank’s unconsolidated Profit After-Tax “PAT” clocked at PKR 15.2 billion, up by PKR 4.1 billion or 36.8% compared to the same period last year. Consequently, net assets of the Bank stand increased by PKR 26.4 billion to PKR 259.0 billion (Dec ‘19: PKR 232.6 billion). The Board of Directors of National Bank of Pakistan approved the financial results of the bank on September 01, 2020 along with the condensed interim financial statements of the Bank for the half-year ended June 30, 2020.  

During H1 ’20, the Bank earned gross mark-up/ interest income amounting to PKR 145.3 billion which is 49% higher than PKR 97.7 billion of H1 ‘19. Total earning assets averaged at PKR 2,428.1 billion (Jun ‘19: PKR 1,931.5 billion), of which investments amounted to PKR 1,403.7 billion and generated interest/mark-up income of PKR 85.4 billion, 92.2% higher than that of H1, 2019. Whereas, net advances averaged at PKR 971.1 billion, 6.6% higher than PKR 911.3 billion of June ’19, and recorded 18.7% growth in mark-up income that closed at PKR 57.6 billion. As the Bank incurred cost of funds amounting to PKR 96.8 billion (H1 ’19:PKR 62.1 billion), net mark-up/interest income for H1 ’20 closed at PKR 48.4 billion, 36.2% higher against PKR 35.6 billion earned during the H1 ‘19. Contributing a quarter to the total income, Non-Fund Income “NFI” for this period amounted to PKR 18.3 billion, marginally higher by PKR 0.14 billion or 1% than PKR 18.2 billion of H1, 2019. Despite high inflationary pressures, the Bank did well at keeping a lid on the administrative expenses that clocked at PKR 29.5 billion, being 5.9% higher YoY, translating into Cost-to-Income ratio of 44.2% compared to 51.7% for H1 ’19.    

On the financial position side, the total asset base of the Bank on unconsolidated basis amounted to PKR 3,163.4 billion which is 1.2% higher than PKR 3,124.4 billion as at December 31, 2019. On the asset front, investments continued to constitute the bulk of asset-mix and soared by PKR 203.8 billion to PKR 1,643.0 billion, whereas net advances registered a decline of 7.2% over Dec ‘19, clocking in at PKR 935.6 billion. On the liabilities side, the deposit base of the Bank registered an increase of PKR 141.2 billion i.e. 6.4% over Dec ‘19, improving the current account mix to 55.1% and CASA ratio to 83.1%. In June 2020, M/s VIS Credit Rating and PACRA Credit Rating re-affirmed the Bank’s credit rating as “AAA” (Triple AAA), the highest credit rating awarded by the company for a bank in Pakistan.  

In recognition of the successful deals and innovative initiatives that made a positive impact for its clients, the Bank has recently been awarded two prestigious awards ‘Corporate Client Initiative of the Year – Pakistan’ and ‘The Innovative Deal of the Year – Pakistan’ by The Asian Banking & Finance-2020. 

The bank is revalidating business assumptions with a focus on how the Covid-19 crisis may affect its asset quality and the adjustments needed to contain the impact on the overall business model of the Bank. NBP remains committed to using its earnings to bolster the balance sheet and provisions have been increased substantially. A strategy under immediate consideration of the Board and management of the Bank is that of achieving greater financial inclusion through supporting the retail and consumer segment e.g. housing, agriculture, construction, and transport. The bank aims to help these sectors that have been under pressure during the slowdown and offer opportunities for growth.  

Modernization of Madaris or Islamization of schools?

By Ali Haider Lodhi/ISLAMABAD

The Government of Pakistan has recently announced the introduction of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) for grades 1 to 5, as a strategy to eliminate apartheid in education, one of the priority areas in the Education Policy Framework introduced by the sitting government at the beginning of its tenure. While the SNC has been received with a lot of criticism by educationists in Pakistan, it has much to offer for Madaris.  

The educational landscape of Pakistan consists of three types of schools: public schools, private schools and Madaris. Madaris is derived from the Arabic word Madrassa that literally means ‘a place of learning’ but in today’s world, the word Madrassa is mostly associated with institutes that educate its students on Islamic teachings i.e. Quran, Hadith and Fiqh. The number of Madaris has increased from 200 at the time of independence in 1947 to 35,000 today, according to the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. However, many analysts believe that the actual number is far more than this.

Almost 3 million students are being educated in these Madaris, mostly free of cost, as most of these students cannot afford nor have access to public or private schools. Since the government does not have enough funds to establish schools in every village or district of the country or provide free education to all, it heavily depends on Madaris to cater for a large portion of the population. Madaris provide free education, food, clothing and lodging for almost all of its students who are usually from low socio-economic backgrounds and cannot afford to pay for private schools. In addition to catering to millions of students, Madaris have thousands of employees working for them including teachers, instructors and mentors. The role of Madaris in our society is more than that of just educational institutes as they work like non-governmental organisations providing shelter, food and clothing to the poor.

While most of the Madaris generally focus on delivering Islamic studies in their curriculum and other educational activities, they do not teach contemporary subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, English and other subjects. In some of the Madaris that do include contemporary subjects in their curricula, the concepts taught are either outdated or variations of these subjects are taught that are in line with Islamic teachings, for example, the discoveries of science mentioned in the Quran. Hence, students learn concepts that have no exchange value in the marketplace or workplace as compared to concepts that other students learn in public or private schools. The gap that exists between Madaris and public and private schools has caused a lot of problems for graduates of Madaris as they do not possess the skills to compete in the job market and are left unemployed.

This calls for policy reform that could help bridge the gap between the two systems of education and provide equal opportunities for the youth of Pakistan in terms of education and jobs. Policy reformation will also help regularize Madaris to ensure that their funding is coming through legal channels and known donors, and is used for the correct reasons. In the past, many governments have tried to modernize Madaris to introduce students to contemporary subjects and modern methods of teaching but have failed each time. With the introduction of policy reforms for Madaris, how has the current government brought Madaris on board with the SNC?

On one hand, through the SNC, the government aims to provide job opportunities to Madrassa graduates, stimulating the creation of more Madaris. Every primary school would be required to hire one Madrassa certified teacher to teach Islamic teachings in the manner that it is currently taught in Madaris. Considering the large number of public and private schools in Pakistan, thousands of Madrassa certified teachers would be employed. Not only will these Madrassa certified teachers have a high influence on the school environments but they will also have a great influence on the overall academic environment in the country. With Madaris widely cited as an important contributor to extremism that Pakistan is still not completely rid of, giving Madaris a strong position in education policy-making and political influence in the academic environment may not be very useful in producing more responsible citizens.

On the other hand, the SNC envisages the government to provide each Madrassa with three teachers, who will be paid from the public exchequer, to teach students contemporary subjects in the 35,000 Madaris across the country. Educationists have pointed this out to the government that providing teachers to Madaris for contemporary courses might not be possible considering that this will be done at a cost to public schools who are already facing a shortage of teachers.

Many critics believe that the SNC will not lead to the modernization of Madaris, but instead to the Islamisation of public and private schools. While the curricula of contemporary subjects remains more or less the same in the SNC, major changes have been introduced in the Islamiat curriculum, making it heavier in content – even heavier than the content currently being taught at Madaris. Schools will be heavily dependent on Madaris certified teachers and every Madrassa will try to impose its interpretation of the Quran, Fiqh and Hadith. The SNC requires young students to memorise Quranic passages rather than training the youth on how to interpret Islam in relation to the demands of the modern world. The fact that non-Muslim students and Muslim students from various sects will have to learn the same Islamiat curriculum not only singles out minorities but could also worsen the sectarian divide.

Therefore, it appears that the newly developed SNC has only led to a boost to the Madrassa system in the country with far-reaching implications for the youth of Pakistan that form 64% of the entire population. It does not provide students with any additional knowledge or cognitive capabilities that could help them engage critically, promote creativity, develop civic values or prepare them for the future of work. The government needs develop an environment where different educational institutes can co-exist with different curricula to try and eliminate apartheid in education, rather than compounding the already existing sectarian divide and promoting extremism in the country. (Writer Ali Haider Lodhi is an M.Phil student).