ISLAMABAD, Nov 28: Participants at a forum on Wednesday asked the provincial governments to follow in the federal government’s footstep and legislate for free and compulsory education to all children of 5 to 16 years.
This was stated by the participants of Inter-provincial Forum on Right to Education, organised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNICEF on Wednesday.
They said the federal government’s move to pass Right to Free and Compulsory Education bill in National Assembly a remarkable step.
They said the bill, when turned into law, would bring approximately 70,000 children to school in Islamabad.
Federal Minister for Education and Training, Sheikh Waqas Akram said that although provincial governments were sincere in fulfilling this Constitutional ‘Right to Education’ in their areas, financial constraints and other developmental and administrative exigencies were hindering the process.
“I appreciate the provincial governments which have taken concrete steps like preparing draft Bills and urge upon other provinces and Areas to expedite their efforts to convert the dream of a literate and educated Pakistan into a reality,” he aid
He said that around two years back, UNESCO, Islamabad facilitated preparation of the draft Bill on the “Right to Free and Compulsory Education”, on the request of Senate Standing Committee.
The draft bill was reviewed and passed by the Senate on July 9 and National Assembly some two weeks back. This bill will be a good practice for provinces to follow. Provinces are working on similar bills to ensure total enrolment of children of age 6 to 16, he said.
Balochistan Minister of Quality Education Mir Jan Changezi called for skill-based training for students at school level. He said that it would ensure decent occupation for them.
Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, UNESCO Representative in her opening remarks expressed her confidence that the provincial governments would implement Article 25-A in their respective areas.
Participants of forum passed a resolution in which they suggested the provincial governments to immediately initiate legislation for the enforcement of Article 25-A in its letter and sprit, in their respective areas.
They also appealed to the federal government to allocate and release special grants to under developed provinces/areas/districts with low indicators of education, for filling up the gap and for provision of free and compulsory education to all children and achieving universal literacy.
Participants urged the provincial governments to increase education budget up to 4 per cent of the GDP in accordance with the target set in the National Education Policy and enhance budget for development in education sector at least by 20 per cent annually.
Federal and provincial governments should exempt education sector from any cuts or post-budget reduction at the time of release of funds, after annual budgets are approved by the assemblies.
Recognize the equal right of girls to education and reaffirm determination to take necessary steps and offer incentives for eliminating gender disparities in education in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan, resolution says.