ISLAMABAD:(APS) “Education is the fundamental right of all children and the state needs to ensure a renewed commitment to tackling education issues to ensure the presence of every child in school!” this was stated by education activists and civil society stakeholders at a National Consultation on the Post-2015 Education Agenda in Pakistan.
The conference was attended by prominent civil society experts such Baela Raza Jamil, the head of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agaahi and even international experts such as Mr. Rena Raya, lead policy analyst at The Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) who remarked that “The biggest responsibility of the state should be to provide education to its citizens, rather than focusing on defence or the military”.
While Pakistan passed the Right to Education Act as part of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2010, which asserts that the state shall provide ‘free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years’, no province or territory has yet fully implemented this Article, and Pakistan will not meet the Millennium Development Goals on Education, which expire in 2015.
“We have failed this generation, but now the state needs to work towards ensuring quality education for all in the context of the post-2015 education agenda” said Zehra Arshad emphatically at the conference. Zehra serves at National Coordinator of Pakistan Coalition for Education, which has been working on education policy reform for close to a decade, and works in over 65 districts in Pakistan with over 200 member organisations.
The Consultation brought into account civil society perspectives on education issues, and took into account regional perspectives on education to offer unique perspective on tackling Pakistans multi-faceted education crisis by looking at our neighbours. India, for example – enacted a Right to Education Act in 2009 while Bangladesh boasts a literacy rate of 65.2%. Mr. Thusita Siriwardana from ASPBAE, and one of the panel speakers, gave an illuminating presentation on various international declarations on education, providing a global perspective on issues.
Government functionaries present at the conference included Mr. Nadeem Ahmed, Assistant Director Training from the Federal Directorate of Education, who assured participants that the state was working very hard to ameliorate the educational scenario. “These problems are multi-faceted and cannot be solved overnight” he stated, “but educational indicators are continuously moving forward, which shows definite progress”
The overall literacy rate in Pakistan is only 60% and female literacy lies at an even more dismal 48%, according to the latest statistics released by the PSLM. Pakistan only spends between 1% and 2% of the GDP on Education and it is estimated that 25 million children are out of school in the country.