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ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: The education minister, Zobaida Jalal, has said each district will soon have a comprehensive and feasible 15 years “Education For All” (EFA) perspective plan duly approved by the respective district assemblies.

She was speaking at the certificate-distribution ceremony at a workshop organized by the National Council of Social Welfare (NCSW) of the Ministry of Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education here on Wednesday.

The minister said the EFA had already been started in a number of districts and now the ministry wanted to spread the programme throughout the country.

“We have launched the EFA as a movement in the country with the cooperation of government organizations, NGOs, private sector, individuals and other stakeholders and it will be taken to every nook and corner of the country,” she said.

Ms Jalal said the ministry had shared the EFA National Plan of Action with all concerned at international, national, provincial and district levels. Concerted efforts had brought good name to the country and today Pakistan was a member of a high-level group in the EFA leader of South Asia, one of the 23 countries being considered for EFA financing under fast track financing, she added.

The minister said now political commitment was imperative for the EFA programme, as the government had already released substantial fund for the project.

Referring to last three years’ development in the education sector, Ms Jalal said the stage had been set for real change in the education sector and with continued efforts cherished goals would be achieved.

She accepted that educational profile and indicators were not encouraging; primary education participation rate was low, dropout rate was high, and less than 50 per cent children completed primary education.

“More than half of our population is functionally illiterate, gender disparities persist at all levels of education and early children care and development continues to be neglected,” she added.

She said the achievement of equity, equality and quality were the priority issues in the education sector and the task before the nation was gigantic and its accomplishment needed concerted efforts. The minister said Pakistan were among those countries who had committed in the World Education Forum, Dakar, to work for EFA goals adhering to the target within the stipulated timeframe.

In the end, she said the basic emphasis of the EFA was to reach the disadvantaged population groups in rural and urban areas, with special focus on girls and women; to promote community participation and ownership of basic education programmes at the grass roots and to improve quality of basic education through enhancing learning achievements of the children, youth and adults.

She urged the participants to work for the betterment of the under-privileged of the society, as civil society organizations could provide an impetus to such efforts owing to their close contact with the general public.

Ms Jalal said it was really encouraging to see young participants who had volunteered to serve the needy people. She said the government was ready to provide financial assistance to NGOs that were working for the real cause.

Ms Jalal was of the view that public sector alone could not cater to the needs of tens of thousands of the under-privileged throughout the country, and active collaboration of the private sector was needed.

It is the first of a series of workshops to be organized by the NCSW throughout the country for training of representatives of voluntary organizations working in the field of social welfare.

As many as 17 representatives of various NGOs from Rawalpindi and Islamabad are participating in the workshop in which interactive training sessions would be conducted by the scholars and senior resource persons from both public and private sector.