A holistic framework for educational reform is needed and higher education institutions have a significant role to play in ensuring the quality and appropriateness of reform efforts in education in the country. Dr Pirzada Raza Qasim Siddiqui, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Karachi made these remarks while addressing the inaugural session of a three-day international conference on Status of Educational Reform in Developing Countries witAh Special Emphasis on South Asia , organised by Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED). “Education in developing countries needs repositioning and reshaping to address the challenges of globalisation, knowledge societies and knowledge-based economies.” He was speaking before an audience that included Aga Khan University President Firoz Rasul, Provost Dr William Doe, government officials, academics, researchers and members of civil society.
“Quality is at the heart of global educational reform,” said Professor David Stephens, University of Brighton , UK , the keynote speaker. Using examples from a range of countries, a number of key challenges were highlighted: the relationship between education quality and economic growth, the need to move from universal primary education to universal secondary education, the role of learning outcomes in educational development, and the status of teacher and higher education in capacity building, among others. Above all, innovative and culturally appropriate approaches to researching and evaluating reform in education need to be applied.
Dr Muhammad Memon, Director AKU-IED, highlighted the educational reform challenges confronting developing countries, particularly Pakistan . “Educational reform has focused on the ‘symptoms' of problems rather than on the fundamental ‘causes'.” Reform should provide an alternate framework, a vision of education and opportunity for the education community to promote a culture of reasoning, inquiry and collaborative learning among students, teachers and others.
The conference chair, Dr Anjum Halai, AKU-IED, maintained that this event would enable participants to reflect upon the reform and improvement efforts that they were engaged in, and to identify a way forward.
Other scholars, educationists and researchers who will share their views over the next two days include Dr Munawar Mirza, Vice Chancellor University of Education, Lahore , who will discuss the politics of educational reform, and Dr Uppali M. Sedere of the Ed-Links office in Islamabad , who will speak about the impact of educational reform in South Asia .
Aga Khan University regularly holds seminars, symposiums as well as international conferences to raise awareness about health and education-related issues which are of national importance and interest.