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A view of the National Assembly. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Right to free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012 unanimously to ensure free and compulsory education to all children of aged five to sixteen years as enshrined in the Article 25-A of the Constitution.

The bill was passed in the National Assembly’s session which was presided over by Faisal Kareem Kundi.

The house adopted the private member bill, also passed by the Senate was piloted by PPP lawmaker Yasmeen Rehman.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says, Article 25A of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 provides for free education to all children of aged five to sixteen as a fundamental right and its provision is a responsibility of the state.

Accordingly, a comprehensive law to provide for free and compulsory education is the mandate of the constitution and the need of the time.

The bill provides education for all children of the age 5-16 in schools established by the federal government and local government in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Under the bill, every child, regardless of sex, nationality or race,shall have a fundamental right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school.

No school, other than a school established owned or controlled by the appropriate government, after the commencement of this Act, be established or function, without obtaining a certificate of registration from the prescribed authority.

Any person who establishes or runs a school without obtaining certificate of registration or continues to run a school after withdrawal of registration, shall be liable to fine which may extend to two hundred thousand rupees and in case of continuing contraventions, to a fine of twenty five thousand rupees for each day.

Parents who would refuse to send their children to schools would be fined with penalty of 25,000 rupees and three month imprisonment, the bill stated.

Addressing the issue of child labour, the bill stated that people who would employ children for labour would be fined with the penalty of 50,000 rupees and six months imprisonment.

Speaking in the House, Yasmeen Rehman said that provision of a compulsory education was a fundamental right of every children and the bill would ensure better education to the children.

Chief Whip of the House, Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah while lauding Yasmeen Rehman for bringing bill into the House, said that it was very important bill and provision of compulsory education to the children aged 5 to 16 was also enshrined in the Article 25 A of the Constitution.

He said that the constitution fully supported the bill and it would be a first steps towards this noble cause. He said the bill was for ICT and expressed the hope that the other provinces would also follow it.

Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho also congratulated the House and Yasmeen Rehman for passing such important bill. She said that the bill would not only remove sense of deprivation of poor section in the society but also ensure quality education.

Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that it was a very comprehensive bill which included various important sections.

She said that the President Asif Ali Zardari and PPP government were also very keen in promoting and imparting education and in first phase, scholarships to 3 million children were being given to children under Waseela-e-Education programme initiated by Benazir Income Support Programme.

She was of the view at least 4.5 per cent of total GDP should be allocated for education sector.

She said that under the bill, now the private education institutions would also bound to reserve 10 per cent quota for poor children. Asia Nasir said that uniform syllabus and curriculum should also implement across the country to ensure quality education.

She said that the other provinces should also follow the central government in this regard.

Khushbakht Shujaat also congratulated the whole parliament for    passing such important bill and said that it was a postive step towards promotion of education in the country.

Updated Nov 13, 2012 10:30am

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