KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the provincial education department secretary to submit a comprehensive plan within 20 days about the implementation of free and compulsory education law in Sindh.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also asked the education secretary to accommodate proper staff at the office of director general of private schools after the DG complained of an acute shortage of staff.
Moreover, the bench directed private schools DG Mansoob Siddiqui to submit a list of private schools where 10 per cent free education was being provided in terms of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013.
The bench issued these directives on a set of petitions mainly seeking implementation of the aforesaid act. The law was promulgated after the induction of Article 25A (the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law) in the Constitution.
At the outset of the hearing, an additional secretary of school education and literacy department submitted a compliance report through an additional advocate general with the minutes of a meeting held on Nov 4.
SHC seeks list of private schools providing 10 per cent free education
According to the minutes, certain decisions had been taken and one month’s time was sought to produce a comprehensive plan for implementation.
“We are of the tentative view that the decisions mentioned in the minutes of the meeting are very sound and reasonable, but the actual matter pertains to address the proper implementation so that it may not have any cosmetic value but implemented practically in order to meet the standards of education in the province of Sindh,” said the bench in its order.
It directed the additional advocate general to convey to the education department secretary to submit a comprehensive plan within 20 days with copy to the counsel for the petitioners.
When the bench asked the private schools DG to furnish a list of private institutions complying with a provision of the law in question to provide 10pc free education, he submitted that there was an acute shortage of staff at his office.
Therefore, the bench asked the education secretary to look into the matter and accommodate proper staff in his office so that compliance of the court orders should not be delayed.
The court also issued a directive for the health secretary to ensure that the teaching staff was appointed in a high school in Larkana without further delay after a lawyer for one of the petitioners said that despite making various requests to the secretary, the shortage of teachers was not addressed.
Earlier, the petitioners submitted that there were various provisions of the act which required immediate attention of the government for smooth implementation of the law.
The law also said that the government shall encourage enterprises, institutions and other segments of society by offering incentive to establish schools to facilitate free and compulsory education whereas privately owned and managed schools must also provide free education to at least 10pc of their actual strength of students aged five to 16 years.
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019