A consultative meeting with political parties to prioritize education and implement Article 25-A was organized by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in Avari Hotel Lahore which was attended by different political parties members, educationists, youth parliamentarians and members from the civil society. The key participants included:
- Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman (Punjab Education Minister)
- Dr. Asma Mamdot (MPA & Member of Standing Committee on Education)
- Major (r) Abdul Rehman (PPP)
- Waqas Anjum Afridi (JI)
- Ms. Najma Hameed (Pakistan Muslim League -N)
- Mian Mujtaba Shuja ur Rahman (Pakistan Muslim League -N)
- Dr. Saeeda Iqbal (Senator Pakistan Peoples Party PPP)
- Ms. Zakia Shahnawaz ( Senior Advisor CM Pakistan Muslim League –N)
- Raja M Anwar (PEF Chairman)
- Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal
The participants in the meeting stressed the need for collective efforts by all the political parties to prioritize and further the agenda of education for a developed and prosperous Pakistan.
MPA Dr Asma Mamdot, who is also Member of Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, expressed concern over laptop scheme and Daanish schools, saying they were against the same but recommendations of the committee were not heard.The MPA stressed the need to shift priorities, saying that 250 government schools in her district, Rajanpur, were without the facility of drinking water. She said education – especially education of girls – should be our priority as a nation.
Justice (r) Nasira Javed also expressed concern over the Punjab government’s laptop initiative and Daanish schools. She also spoke against discretionary funds saying the same should be abolished as it was road to corruption. She suggested that discretionary funds should be placed in common pool and the same should be utilized only for education.
MPA Major (r) Abdul Rehman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said there should be no division among political parties over education. He said there should be a national level policy on education covered by constitutional body having legal cover. He was of the view that finance was no problem; what lacked was priority and will.The PPP legislator also suggested that funds to the needy ones through Zakat, Bait ul Maal and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) should be linked with education of their children. He also called for decentralization of education sector.
Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) chairman Raja Anwar said education should be taken as a collective issue, underlining the role of private sector in this regard.
Waqas Anjum Jafri of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said there should be no discrimination in connection with education opportunities at any level.
Peter Jacob of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) highlighted what he termed “hate material” being taught to the students. A recent study had found that the situation in this regard had gone from bad to worst in the recent years, he added.
Youth Parliamentarians Syeda Mahreen and Ubaid ur Rahman gave a forceful speech on the role of the youth in the case of education in Pakistan and proposed a way forward for the implementation of Article 25 A. They proposed political favouritism in teacher appointments as a point of key concern to the hindrance of equitable teaching.
Baela Raza Jamil, Trustee/Advisor ITA and Coordinator South Asian Forum Education Development, moderated the panel discussion. She discussed key issues that the Annual Status of Education Report 2011 highlights, especially the gaps in learning and enrollment.
A number of students representing the Youth Parliament brought to light the issue of medium of instruction in schools and highlighted the necessity of promoting our local languages.They proposed more emphasis on gender equality and improving quality through teacher training.
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Minister Education Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman said it was passion of the CM Punjab that each and every child should get quality education. He said CM Reforms Roadmap for Education was in line with the Article 25-A. Mujtaba defended the Daanish School System and laptop scheme saying Daanish school was basically a benchmark of quality education at public sector institutions. He said people had opposed when his party leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had started work on Motorway, but the same had become a benchmark and its standard was followed during construction of roads across the country.