December 9, 2016
In an attempt to push authorities into immediate action, the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) on Thursday presented key findings of UNESCO’s recently launched Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, highlighting the urgency to provide accessible quality education to all.
The report titled ‘Education for All’ included 6Ps as its theme – planet, prosperity, people, peace, place and partnership – in a bid to emphasise on achieving educational targets as a means to ease the achievement of the remaining SDGs.
The report showed that education needed a major transformation in order to fulfil the potential and overcome challenges staring humanity and planet in the face.
As per the GEM report, if all South Asian countries including Pakistan were to follow in on the present state of affairs, universal primary education would be achieved by 2051; universal lower secondary education would be achieve by 2062, while the universal upper secondary education by 2087. This meant that the region was lagging behind 2030 SDG education targets by more than half a century.
The UNESCO report also urged for countries to transform their education systems to bring attention to environmental concerns. It maintained that while majority countries agreed that education was the best way to spread climate change awareness, there were still several countries’ where climate change was yet to be included in the national curricula.
A panel discussion comprising renowned educationists Zubeida Mustafa, Prof Aijaz Ali, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Alia Shahid, Shehla Rashid-ud-Din, economist Dr Qaiser Bengali and Dr Baela Raza Jamil discussed ways to bring about sustainable improvement in Pakistan’s education system.
The panellists emphasised on the role of government, civil society and communities if they wanted to see Pakistan succeed in achieving the universal primary and secondary education goals.
During the discussion, Sindh Special Secretary School Education Alia Shahid said we needed to go by evidence to generate data and address governance issues. “Sindh does not lack a demand for education. It is high time now. But we are trying our best,” she added.
Veteran educationist, journalist and author Zubeida Mustafa highlighted the fact that the report emphasised on inclusive and equitable education.
“Pakistan cannot progress without reducing this divide. The government will have to take responsibility and public schools will have to bring the change.”
Responding to a question Szabist president, Shehnaz Wazir Ali, remarked that permanent security of jobs in government sector brings about management and governance issues.
UNICEF’s representative, Dr Shehla Rashid-ud-din expressed her concerns over selective children going to school. “We need to work on providing equal education to everyone, and develop a social protection net, one that is integrated with livelihood when we look at education, health and other basic necessiteis.”
UNESCO Director Irina Bokova observed that, “A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet.”
Now, more than ever, education needed to be brought in accordance with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right kinds of values and skills which would lead to sustainable and inclusive growth and peace, she added.
ITA Trustee and vice chairperson on UNESCO’s GEM report Baela Raza Jamil stressed on education system being used to impart skills aligned with the needs of growing economies.
She mentioned that on current trends, by 2020, there would be 40 million too few workers with a tertiary education relative to the demand.
The report showed that the change was vital in achieving universal upper secondary education by 2030 in low income countries, which would lift 60 million people out of poverty by 2050. Inequality in education, interacting with wider disparities heightens the risk of violence and conflict.
A recent study drawing on data spanning 50 years from 100 countries found that countries with higher levels of inequality in schooling were much more likely to experience conflict.