December 31, 2018
Islamabad : Idara-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) hosted a citizens’ dialogue to relate Article 25-A of the Constitution – Right to Education (RTE) – with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 4 on Quality Education, says a press release.
The event took place at Margalla Hotel with the attendance of various stakeholders including civil society, donor representatives, media representatives, youth, and government and parliamentary representatives. This event was under the Right to Education Department of ITA- supported by Open Societies Foundations (OSF) and United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
The event started off with ITA’s CEO-Baela Raza Jamil introducing the RTE Acts from the various provinces/ICT, highlighting Article 25-A and the essentials of SDG4. This was followed by the voices of ITA’s very own Education Youth Ambassadors (EYAs).
These EYAs have been working nation-wide, and were represented at the dialogue by Huma Shakir from Swat and Abdul Karim Soomro and Naresh Kumar from Sukkur. They provided compelling testimonies of the important work that had been carried out in their areas.
The next session facilitated the audience in understanding the constitutional obligations, fundamental rights and principles of policy with regard to Article 25-A. Suneel Malik from Centre for Social Justice and Professor A.H. Nayyar from Quaid-e-Azam University provided insights around the challenges with regards to implementation. During this conversation, Professor Nayyar said there was an enormous budgetary challenge as Rs5 trillion would be required to put out of school children in school, which is equivalent to the entire nation’s annual budget.
Subsequently, a panel discussion on accelerating implementation of 25-A and SDG4 was held. It focused on reviewing existing 25-A laws on RTE, the gaps, and the effectiveness of efforts made thus far. The panel was moderated by Mosharraf Zaidi (Tabadlab), and included Tahira Abdullah (social activist), Takako Osimoto (UNHCR), and Nargis Sultan (OSF), who each provided important insight and analyses.
The panel was later joined by Shahid Naeem (Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms) and the chief guest, Kanwal Shauzab, the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Development & Reforms. Mr. Naeem emphasised that “education must be made relevant to encourage parents to send their children to school. Skills must be factored into curriculums and merged with learning standards.” Ms. Kanwal addressed inclusivity in implementation of 25-A by speaking on gender and cultural and societal norms. “There is a capacity issue in many government schools, which results in preferential treatment towards sons over daughters, proving that the issues arise in the supply of education, not the demand.”
To close, the audience was engaged in a creative dialogue and provided their recommendations and critiques for the stakeholders’ consideration.