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November 7, 2018

Civil society welcomes SC committee call for education emergency


November 7, 2018

Islamabad : Pakistan girls’ education activists welcomed a Supreme Court committee call to declare an education emergency in Pakistan.

As a first step, Pakistan Coalition for Education, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates and Awaz Foundation urged federal and provincial governments to call an all-party Joint Ministerial Conference to agree a national plan of action on education, including a Girls’ Education Task Force.

The call follows the Supreme Court committee’s review of the implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution, which provides for free and compulsory education for all children aged 5 to 16. The committee found “insufficient commitment and patchy management” in Pakistan’s education sector and recommended several measures including the declaration of an education emergency.

Zehra Arshad, executive director of Pakistan Coalition for Education said that the call is a step in the right direction. "However, it is only a small step and it must be followed by an extensive and inclusive plan of action across all tiers of government. According to official Pakistan Education Statistics, of the 22.8 million children out of school in Pakistan, most are girls. Any State of Emergency and subsequent policy review must include a specific focus on girls.”

Mariyam Amjad of Awaz Foundation noted that all previous governments announced education emergencies in Pakistan that were limited to enrolment drives. "Any new emergency drive must start with a Joint Ministerial Conference to agree a holistic plan to include funding allocations, efficient spending, more girls’ secondary schools, capable teachers and good learning outcomes.”

Areebah Shahid, executive director of Pakistan Youth Change Advocates added that less than a third of Pakistan’s girls are enrolled at secondary level. "While we have made strides in primary education for girls, much more attention is needed to close the gender gaps in secondary and higher secondary education.”

As part of a national action plan, the education groups are called for national spending on education to increase to 4-6 per cent of GDP (with a 1 per cent annual increase), infrastructure investment for girls’ higher secondary schools, enforcement of the Right to Education laws and an extension of the constitutional guarantee of free and quality education to a full 12 years and establishment of Girls’ Education Task Force.

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