September 8, 2012
ISLAMABAD, 8th September 2012: The launch ceremony for One Million Signature Campaign Phase II was held at Press Club Islamabad here on Saturday with more than one hundred participants. Amongst them, prominent child rights advocates such as Mrs. Rubina Qaimkhani (Chairperson – Parliamentary Forum on Child Rights) and Rafique Tahir (Joint Secretary – Ministry of Capital Administration & Development) were in attendance.
The launch commenced with an introduction to the Right of Education Initiative and One Million Signature campaign presented by Ms. Ayesha Bilal of Idara-E-Taleem-O-Agahi. Ms. Bilal spoke of the success of Phase I of the One Million Signature campaign where almost 90% of all signatures collected were from children between 5-18 years. She explained that in Phase II, the aim is to collect signatures only from children deprived of education. This will include those who have dropped out of school, as well as those who were never enrolled.
Following this, two young children who are currently not in school went up on stage and shared their stories with the audience. In a heartwarming speech, the girl shared her desire to be able to obtain an education and appealed to the audience for their support in making the provisions of Article 25-A a reality.
The chief guest for this occasion, Mrs. Rubina Qaimkhani, has been a strong supporter of child rights. In her role as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on Child Rights, she has advocated strongly for the cause. Mrs. Qaimkhani said that the One Million Signature campaign Phase I was a major success in that it brought the voice of the people forward. She said that it is necessary to support and assist in such endeavors in order to make policymakers to sit up and take notice. She said that through Phase II of this campaign, the true voice of children deprived of education would be given a chance to be heard. She pledged her support to the campaign and expressed a desire to see a Pakistan with high quality free and compulsory education for all.
Dr. Danish, member of the Child Rights Movement (CRM) was also among the speakers. He briefed the audience on the workings of CRM and the steps they are taking towards securing fundamental rights for all children of Pakistan. Also among the speakers was Mr. Bilal Dar from the Jang group of newspapers. He spoke about the support given to the media by ITA towards better understanding the role of education journalists, and the role of the media in spreading awareness about education needs.
Following this, children from the audience who are deprived of education stepped forward to sign banners placed at the venue, marking the official start of the One Million Signature Campaign. Over the course of the next few months, signatures will be collected from all across Pakistan until the target of a million is reached.