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- Thursday, March 13, 2014 - From Print Edition




THE upcoming legislation vis-à-vis Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill following the insertion of Article 25-A under the 18th Amendment will also include provision of libraries and promotion of book reading culture among the students.


MPA Engr Qamar-ul-Islam Raja, Chairman of the Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, said this while speaking at a policy dialogue “A Call for Provincial Strategy for Developing Primary School Libraries in Punjab” organised by Alif Laila Book Bus Society (ALBBS) in collaboration with the USAID at a local hotel on Wednesday.


It is pertinent to mention here that Article 25-A promises free and compulsory education a fundamental right for all children aged 5 to 16. Despite the passage of almost three years, the Punjab government has yet to introduce legislation for the implementation of this article.


Engr Qamar-ul-Islam proposed to link registration of private schools with the provision of libraries for students to promote book reading among the students upon which some representatives of private schools said there was a more need to establish libraries at public schools, as their schools already had libraries.


To a question about the much awaited regulatory body for private sector schools and the delay in its establishment, he said legislation in this regard would be introduced soon. ALBBS President Basarat Kazim said nothing was more important for children than books, especially in the prevailing circumstances when the country was fighting menace of terrorism. “We need to empower our children”, she said this while adding stories enlightened the minds of kids.


ALBBS Vice President Rabia A Khan talked about the developing primary school library policy and suggested the government to develop a five or ten-year plan and seek collaboration of civil society and corporate sector in this regard. She said it was regretful that the book reading culture and libraries were not part of our discussions these days. She also talked about the ALBBS libraries set up in Multan and Muzaffargarh saying there was very strong and positive impact on the students using these libraries.


Deputy Secretary (Budget and Planning) of School Education Department Punjab Qaiser Rashid talked about the provision of books and establishment of libraries at over 10,000 elementary schools a few years back in Punjab with the cooperation of GIZ at a cost of 12 million Euros. He said however there was a room to work to set up libraries at primary schools.


Education Advisor at USAID Haroon Raheem, representative from JICA, some parliamentarians and educationists also spoke and stressed the need for promoting reading habits among the schoolchildren, especially at primary level.