December 19, 2019
Published in Business Recorder
Civil society organization Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), in collaboration with Oxfam in Pakistan, United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) Pakistan organized a consultation session on Tuesday, December 17, in Lahore, with stakeholders from government, civil society and education sector to discuss acceleration of notification and implementation of Punjab Free and Compulsory Education (PFCE) Act 2014.
Punjab Standing Committee on Education Chairperson Aisha Nawaz Chaudhry, Punjab Standing Committee on Gender Mainstreaming Chairperson Uzma Kardar, MPA Ayesha Iqbal, Literacy and Non-Formal Education Secretary Sumaira Samad, Advisor to Punjab Education Minister Aasiya Khurram Agha, School Education Department Additional Secretary, Women Development Department Secretary and members from Private Schools Association, civil society and academia attended the event.
The meeting explored ways to measure progress in achieving SDG4 of Quality Education and implementing PFCE Act 2014. There were clear pledges from education leaders and decision makers to ensure that all children are able to access quality education under Article-25A of the Constitution of Pakistan without any discrimination and the notification of PFCE Act.
Addressing the meeting, Aisha Nawaz said that we people were reluctant to send our children to government school. She said that we talk about that how parents were not aware but we don’t talk about that we had failed to provide quality education.
Moderating the session, ITA CEO Baela Raza Jamil said that the essence of ITA’s inspiration lies in children’s right to education as a fundamental constitutional right. She said that currently the law lies in the cold storage with little action as it was yet to be notified. “There is an urgency to ensure actions for legislation that can be implemented to improve actions for securing the rights promised in the Constitution of Pakistan. Moreover, it must be noted that the Government of Punjab is progressively working on improving the quality of facilities and learning in the province, so why is the RTE Act 2014 not being given its due attention,” she said. Baela urged that every participant of the meeting was an important influence in their own right; be it the teacher in the classroom, the head teacher in the school or the government officials influencing policy decisions. There is an urgency to take actionable pledges, she added.
A presentation on the current status of PFCE Act 2014 with a special focus on gender disparities was also given besides the targets and indicators of SDG4. Statistics from the Government Administrative data sets, MICS, Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) were also shared to highlight disparities among out-of-school children (OOSC) with respect to gender and wealth.