ISLAMABAD : Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood has said that several revolutionary steps have been taken in consultation with all stakeholders during the last two years to reform the education sector in the country. Presenting his ministry’s two-year performance here at a press conference on Friday, Shafqat Mahmood said the inter-provincial education ministers forum was made functional to reach consensus decisions for development of the education sector.The minister said efforts to introduce uniform curriculum in the country are bearing fruit as uniform curriculum from class one to five has been prepared and uploaded on the Ministry’s website. He said schools will teach one curriculum from April next year. He said the uniform curriculum will lead to developing national cohesion in the country. He said model text books are also being prepared. Shafqat Mahmood said the government engaged the religious seminaries and developed a mechanism to ensure that seminary students also study national curriculum along with Dars-e-Nizami. He said that students of religious seminaries will have employment opportunities like students of contemporary education in practical life. In order to promote the skills of the youth, he said that the Hunarmand Jawan programme was launched. He said vocational training programmes have also been stated. He said the National Accreditation Council has been established to have an oversight look at the vocational training institutes. As for higher education, Shafqat Mahmood said under Ehsaas programme, 50,000 university students will get scholarships annually. Similarly, he said, programmes have also been initiated for training of nurses. The minister said that Pakistan gave an outstanding response to the COVID-19 challenge in the education sector. He said it was decided with consensus among all the provincial education ministers to close educational institutions during the pandemic, and then decided to reopen them on September 15. He said a review meeting will be held on the seventh of the next month to decide about reopening of the institutes. He said the Ministry of Health will devise standard operating procedures (SOPs) for educational institutions to follow to prevent the spread of the virus. Schools will reopen from Sept 15 given that the coronavirus situation improves, he added. The minister said four million students were promoted to the next class from class-IX to class-XII, which was widely accepted. Shafqat Mahmood said that tele school was started on April 7 after closure of schools on March 13. He said for higher education, online education was started. The minister said a new department has been created at the Ministry of Education to continue distance education.