Sindh’s caretaker chief minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar and interim education minister Rana Hussain on Thursday visited the Government Elementary College of Education (GECE), Hussainabad, which is being managed by the Zindagi Trust in collaboration with the NGO Durbeen.
Baqar stopped by the classrooms to interact with the students, and also held discussions with the faculty members. He also reviewed the remarkable infrastructure improvements at the GECE, which has been expertly renovated.
He observed that these renovations further underscore the commitment of Durbeen and the GECE to providing a conducive learning environment for future educators, and enhancing the quality of teacher training in the region.
Durbeen CEO Salma Alam informed the caretaker CM that Durbeen’s teacher education programme was born out of research, modern teaching practices and ground realities. “Pakistan will only prosper when a high-quality teacher becomes a common right for everyone, rather than a privilege for the few.”
She said the GECE is a pioneering teacher training college that has been instrumental in providing high-quality BEd degrees to aspiring educators in Pakistan. These educators eventually go on to become government teachers, making a profound impact on the country’s educational landscape, she added.
She also said that through its strategic partnership with the GECE since 2019, Durbeen has been at the forefront of driving positive policy changes in Pakistan’s education sector.
She pointed out that the provincial cabinet approved the Sindh Teaching Licence Policy on June 2. She explained that this groundbreaking policy aims to elevate the teaching profession to the same level of recognition and prestige as other skill-based professions such as medicine, accounting, law and engineering.
She stressed that Durbeen’s continuous efforts have played a pivotal role in shaping and advocating for this policy, which promises to transform the teaching profession in the region.
She also highlighted the fact that Durbeen has partnered with the University of Oxford and the Malala Fund to establish a graduate programme (Master of Science) to train the faculty needed to teach in BEd programmes.
Salma said the provincial government has initiated the implementation of the new policy by opening up 700 fresh positions for elementary school teachers, who are eligible to teach grades one to eight, across the province.
Previously, she added, junior elementary school teachers were recruited at BPS-14 and were required to hold a bachelor’s degree in any field.
However, she emphasised, these 700 new job opportunities would exclusively be available to graduates of the BEd degree programme who have also successfully passed the licensing examination in accordance with the principles outlined in the licence policy.
She noted that Baqar’s visit underscored the commitment of Durbeen and the GECE to fostering excellence in teacher training and education, aligning with the government’s vision for a more educated and skilled workforce in Pakistan.
Earlier, the interim chief executive paid surprise visits to the Sindh Government Children Hospital, New Karachi, as well as the Sir Syed police station.
At the children’s hospital, Baqar went to the outpatient department (OPD) and the emergency department, where he asked about the availability of doctors, paramedical staff and facilities.
The hospital administration informed him that the health facility has 213 beds, with consistently high bed occupancy, often reaching up to 100 per cent.
They said the hospital serves approximately 600 patients in the emergency department on a daily basis, while on average the hospital provides care to around 1,000 patients a day at the OPD.
They claimed that compared to other children’s hospitals in Karachi, they receive a higher number of patients in both the emergency department and the OPD.
They also said the hospital provides a range of healthcare services that align with the standards of secondary healthcare facilities, stressing that they provide all the necessary medical facilities at no charge.
After visiting the various wards of the hospital, the interim CM found it underutilised. He directed the administration, a private sector partner, to utilise the facility properly.
He also noticed the issue of water availability at the hospital because their reverse osmosis water filtration plant was out of order, so he directed the health department and the relevant deputy commissioner to help the private partner to restore the RO plant.
At the police station, Baqar found the motorbikes impounded as case property rotting under the open sky. He directed the District Central police chief to ensure a proper shade to protect the vehicles.
The caretaker CM also checked the armoury, the storehouse and the daily diary of the police station, expressing his displeasure over the officials not following the due lawful procedures in maintaining them. He directed the officials concerned to launch a crackdown on the drug mafia and keep him posted with compliance reports.
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