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Pakistan passes provincial legislation for Right to Education

Dec 04, 2012

Recently, Pakistan's provinces passed the Bill which would ensure free quality education for children around the Islamabad Capital Territory; a positive move towards accomplishing universal and inclusive education in the nation.

Education and the lack of facilities to impart education have been a cause for anxiety in Pakistan for a long time now. Fourteen-year-old Malala’s shooting made the reality even more macabre about general attitudes towards education in the state.

Keeping this in mind, the recent move by all the provinces of Pakistan to pass the Bill in the National Assembly guaranteeing free quality education for around 70,000 out-of-school children in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was a heartening move. The Bill was passed at a recent meet at Islamabad at the Inter-provincial Forum on Right to Education which was organised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNICEF. If the Bill is taken a seriously, it would help the education scene in Pakistan immensely, especially the drop-outs.

According to a recent UNESCO report the Global Education Digestive 2012, Pakistan has the highest rate of dropouts at 38.5 per cent and girls were more likely to stop going to school than boys.The draft bill for this has been in the works for the last 2 years, and its coming through can be seen as an achievement and perhaps a signal in the will of political leaders to take the cause of education seriously in their country. As Sheikh Waqas Akram, Federal Minister for Education and Training said at the meeting, “It is evident that although provincial/Area governments are sincere to fulfill this Constitutional ‘Right to Education’ in their areas but financial constraints and other developmental and administrative exigencies are hindering the process,” he continues, “I appreciate the Provincial Governments which have taken concrete steps like preparing draft Bills and urge upon other provinces and Areas to expedite their efforts to convert the dream of a literate and education Pakistan into a reality”, Mr. Akram further added.

On the occasion, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, UNESCO Representative expressed her confidence in the ability of the Provincial governments implementing Article 25-A in their respective areas. She said, “Today’s meeting will provide us an opportunity to learn about vision, and plans of Provinces. We will discuss and debate various strategies and approaches towards bringing every child into school, starting from legislation to increasing education budget, expanding and diversifying educational opportunities to meet learning needs of children belonging to different groups and areas”.

Inclusive education is an area that Pakistan needs to grapple with actively and universal primary education is a mandate for the completion of MDG2. With the passing of this Bill, Pakistan will now need to step up its efforts in ensuring that extremist groups and traditional attitudes do not hamper the implementation of this Bill. It might be an uphill task for the Provincial governments, but the Bill is a good place to start with.

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