ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Tuesday that the government is making a conscious effort to bridge educational gaps and promote inclusion using technology.
Speaking at the launch of the 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report on Inclusion and Education,All Means All, he said that school closures following the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the education system but “it has allowed us to focus more on digital technologies.”
He added that the findings of the report would be beneficial in helping the government formulate an education policy.
Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) organised and co-hosted the national virtual launch of the Unesco’s 2020 GEM Report along with Ministry for Federal Education and Professional Training, Unesco Pakistan and the Department for International Development (DFID).
GEM Report Senior Analyst Anna Cristina D’Addio gave a presentation on the 2020 GEM Report and shared its key findings.
2020 report on inclusion and education launched with high-level virtual discussion
The event featured an interactive high-level panel that discussed the key messages and recommendations in the report.
“The GEM Report reminds us of the continued disparities in education, particularly in ensuring access of quality education to all, which is the foundation of inclusion,” Unesco Country Representative Patricia McPhillips said in her opening remarks.
Speaking at the event, DFID Country Director Annabel Gerry said: “This report comes at a critical moment, where the coronavirus pandemic has added to the hidden emergency of exclusion from education.”
Other panelists included Planning Commission of Pakistan Member Social Sector Dr Shabnum Sarfraz, Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) director and LUMS School of Education interim dean Dr Faisal Bari and Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) Executive Director Mohammad Atif Sheikh.
ITA CEO Baela Raza Jamil, while moderating the discussion, said that there is much to do to set actions right for inclusive education in Pakistan. She called on all stakeholders to commit to the rights of all children regardless of their background, gender or ability.
The 2020 GEM Report notes that 258 million children and youth were entirely excluded from education, with poverty as the main obstacle to access.
Hardly any poor rural women in Pakistan complete secondary school despite a target for universal secondary completion by 2030. Moreover, the gap in the probability of boys receiving more household resources for education was 13 percentage points for five to nine year olds and 24 points for 10-14 year olds. Parents can thus help or hinder inclusion.
The report also covered several other important issues such as the need for a separate schooling system for children with disabilities based on the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities 2002.
The report also states that fewer than 10pc of countries have laws that help ensure full inclusion in education while exclusion can be very blatant in some laws. Although Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women prohibits forced and child marriage, girls can get married at the age of 16 in most provinces in Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2020