ISLAMABAD, Nov 29: An additional about Rs231 billion are required to ensure compulsory education to all children at the primary and secondary level in Pakistan, as enshrined in Article 25-A of the constitution, during the next five years This was stated during the launch of two papers “Mapping the scope of work, roles and responsibilities, capacities and resources required for implementation of Article 25-A” and “Alternative financing framework and model for provinces and districts in lieu of RTE implementation”.
It may be noted that parliament has recently passed a bill to ensure implementation of Article 25-A of the constitution.
The papers produced by Pakistan coalition for education suggest ways to implement the right to education law in letter and spirit.
The reports said the present level of public funding catered only to 50 per cent children from five to 16 years of age. With 58 per cent literacy rate and the current level of funding, it is very difficult, if not possible, to achieve the national objective of universal primary education by 2015 and provision of free and compulsory schooling to the children in line with Article 25-A.
Arif Majeed, an educationist and the author of the reports, said the nation’s right to education can only be ensured by increasing the budgetary allocation for the sector.
Nargis Sultana of the Open Society Institute added that access to education was as important as the quality of education. She pointed out that the low and inefficient utilisation of allocated funds was extremely worrying.
“Our state is not ready to meet the issues of governance. We have to increase our resources to meet the GDP goals,” she said.
Dr Tughral Amin of National Defence University emphasised the importance of the time of the launch of these papers. With the general elections to be held in a few months and 25 million children still out of school, only 2.4 per cent of the GDP is being allocated for education in Pakistan today.
He stated that the stakeholders of the education sector needed to reach out to the children not expect the children to come to them.
The feedback from the participants focused mainly on the involvement of the government in developing a sustainable and focused roadmap for the implementation of the law. The participants pointed out that without accountability and transparency, no donor was willing to work on long-term projects. A responsible and involved media can be an important tool in the implementation of the right to free education law.