July 12, 2012, Islamabad

A Consultation with Political Parties to Prioritize Education and implement Article 25 A organized by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi was held in Serena Hotel Islamabad where representatives from major political parties, youth parliamentarians and prominent members from the civil society came together. This was a pre consultation for the larger scale Dialogue to be held on 26th July 2012 being organized by National Commission for Human Development.

Following were the Panelists at the Consultation:

  • Senator Tariq Azeem (Pakistan Muslim League -N) ,
  • Senator Haji Ghulam Ali (Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam – F),
  • Dr Nadeem Ahmed (Muttahida Qaumi Movement),
  • Syed Belal (Jamaat-e-Islami)
  • Col. Yunus Ali Raza (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf)

Popular television host and senior journalist Fahd Hussain, also the ambassador for Right to Education (RTE) Campaign, moderated the panel discussion with grace. The discussion was co-moderated by Baela Raza Jamil, Trustee/Advisor Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi and Coordintor South Asian Forum Education Development. Mrs. Jamil discussed key issues that the Annual Status of Education Report 2011 highlights, especially the gaps in learning and enrollment. Atiq Khokhar and Yasir Riaz, representing the Youth Parliament, brought to light the issue of language use in schools and the necessity of promoting our local languages. They proposed more emphasis on gender equality and improving quality through teacher training. The problem of lack of transparency and accountability in our current Education system was also posed as a major concern.

Senator Tariq Azeem emphasized the need to understand the practical implications of Article 25 A; for instance the implication of “compulsory” and the penalty thereof for not sending a child to school. Senator Ghulam Ali stated several positive initiatives undertaken by his party – especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; providing free education in Madrassas being one of them. Dr. Nadeem Ahsan also discussed the initiatives by MQM for education and explained that only the influential groups in power have the ability to bring about change. Lack of expenditure on Education and its inefficient use was repeatedly highlighted. Col. Yunus Ali Raza promised that PTI plans to spend at least five to seven percent of GDP on Education. The need to devise actionable steps and incorporation of them in each party’s manifesto was also emphasized since the current manifestos lacked practical steps to deal with problems in the Education sector. The issues of quality and access in education and gender equality were also touched upon. All parties agreed on formulating a realistic roadmap to deal with the issues raised at the discussion.

Representing the Civil Society and Pakistan Coalition of Education, Mrs. Jamil lauded the passing of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill by the Senate on July 9, 2012, for Islamabad Capital Territory. She stated that the timing of this Bill could not have been better as only two years have elapsed since the insertion of Article 25 A in the 18th constitutional amendment. This fortunately also coincides with the closing of the One Million Signature Campaign for Right to Education where one million signatures have been collected from children (90%) and concerned citizens all over Pakistan to demand implementation of Article 25 A and the prioritization of Education.