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March 30, 2014

Education will be given 4pc of GDP by 2018: PM

March 30, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday, while emphasising the need for an education system that is compatible with the knowledge-based economy, said that his government will achieve the target of earmarking funds equivalent to 4 percent of GDP for education in Pakistan.
Addressing an international conference on education - ‘Unfinished Agenda in Education, the Way Forward’ – here in the federal capital, the prime minister said that investment in education is actually investment in the future of the country. He said that education sector needs to be revamped and reformed to bring it at par with international standards. He said a national plan of action has been launched recently in collaboration with the provinces to achieve education targets. He said a literacy movement will be launched to ensure maximum enrolment in schools.
“Our effort is to achieve the targets, set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years. A key target, set by Unesco, is to increase resources for the education sector to reach four percent of GDP by the year 2018,” he added.
The conference was also attended by Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Education Gordon Brown, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education Alice Albright, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Engineer Shaukatullah, Minister of State for Education Baligh-ur-Rehman, cabinet members, UN officials and parliamentarians.
The prime minister said the government’s objective was to develop an educational system that was compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy.
He stressed to focus on science and technology and modern skills in education system, besides calling for prioritisation of female education in education policy, effective participation of women in the decision-making process and to protect their respect and dignity. He said that for Pakistan,

education was not merely a matter of priority but it is the future of Pakistan, which lies in its educated youth. “It has, in fact, become a national emergency. More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalisation. Without education, this resource can turn into a burden,” he maintained.
He said the primary concerns in education were low budgetary allocations for education, a very high number of out-of-school children, high drop-out rates, gender disparity, low literacy rate and realising the MDGs and EFA targets. He said despite education being a provincial subject, there was a national consensus on the need for reform and modernisation of the country’s educational system to bring it at par with the national priorities and international standards. He said the federal education ministry had recently launched a National Plan of Action in collaboration with the provincial governments providing a framework for accelerated progress towards achieving the MDGs.
“I believe that education was not an expense but an investment into the future. Rather, it is the best investment an individual, parent or nation can make,” he added.
The prime minister said he had directed the Planning Commission to give education top priority in the prospective plan known as “Vision 2025”.
He said the private sector too was playing an increasingly important role in the field of education. Out of the 14.4 million primary stage enrolments, 4.8 million i.e. 34 percent are enrolled in private sector schools. Private sector share is much higher at the lower middle and secondary levels, he added. Lauding the role of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, religious institutions, delivery agents, and the donors’ community, Nawaz invited all to join the government in its mission to educate and train Pakistan’s youth.
“I have no doubt that they can turn around all our challenges into opportunities. They also have the potential to contribute immensely and positively to world peace and prosperity,” he added.
Thanking Gordon Brown for helping Pakistan devise and implement its short- and long-term strategies in the field of education, Nawaz said the conference would provide a unique opportunity to develop effective coordination mechanisms to generate powerful synergies for accelerated progress in achieving the targets, including the MDGs.
Addressing the conference, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Education Gordon Brown lauded the performance and commitment of the government to meet literacy targets by doubling the education budget and unveiling a national action plan.
He said the passage of pre-requisite laws by the provincial assemblies was a good step and added that the international community also received and responded to the government’s message showing its resolve to get every child in school by 2015. He said the Global Partnership for Education had committed $100 million, the USAID $140 million and the European community $100 million, besides support from Saudi Arabia, the United Nations and other countries. He asked the government to chalk out a plan to meet the literacy target by 2015 and assured all-out support from the international community. There should not be any obstacled due to lack of funds,” he added.
Brown said the government should draw a timetable showing the world its achievements in the education sector and he would persuade the international community to extend maximum possible support to accomplish the task.
Minister of State for Education Baligh-ur-Rehman said the government and international community were resolved to ensure enrolment of every child of school going age.
Global Partnership for Education CEO Alice Albright also addressed the conference.
Later, talking to UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Education and former premier of Britain Gordon Brown at the PM, Premier Nawaz said the government of Pakistan is focused on the quality of education, gender equality and improvement in literacy and learning opportunities for both the young and adults in our society.
“An educated population is more law abiding, more respectful of the rights of others, a more efficient user of scarce resources, is more healthy and civic minded, and above all, is less prone to violence. Education is also an important determinant of economic entrepreneurship, employability and productivity,” he added.
He said that currently literacy rate in Pakistan is 58 percent overall, but this is skewed towards males while our effort is to bridge the gender gap.
He told the visiting dignitary that the government has launched the MDGs Accelerated Framework (MAF) under the National Plan of Action 2013-2016 with a view to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs on education.
“The uphill challenges in attaining MDGs can best be met by renewed and concerted effort to mobilise resources, both domestically and internationally,” he maintained.
He appreciated the role played by Gordon Brown in holding the international conference on education in Islamabad.
“Your influence with the international and bilateral agencies will play an important role in Pakistan’s efforts to build the much needed infrastructure for providing quality education,” the prime minister added.
Chaudhry Sarwar, Ishaq Dar and Baligh-ur-Rehman also attended the meeting.

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