The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the director general of private schools to submit a report explaining what action was being taken against private educational institutions which were not providing free education to 10 per cent of students in terms of the Sindh Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2013.
The directive came at a hearing of identical petitions filed by rights activists and organisations seeking the implementation of the provincial law. A counsel for the petitioners submitted that there were various provisions which required immediate attention of the Sindh government to the smooth implementation of the law in letter and spirit.
The counsel pointed out the Section 7 of the act made it obligatory for the provincial government and the local authorities to provide funds for carrying out provisions of the act.
He submitted that the government was not providing sufficient funds to the public schools for quality education and better infrastructure. He requested the court to seek a report from the education department about the allocation of funds for the implementation of the law.
The court, at a previous hearing, had directed director general of private schools to submit a list of Sindh’s private schools where free education to 10 per cent of students was being provided.
The director general submitted that 22,000 students were being provided free education by private education institutions. A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed the DG to submit a statement with regard to the number of private schools in the province and those providing free education to 10 per cent of their students. The court also directed the education officer to further explain what action the department was taking against uncooperative schools.
The court was informed that as many as 10,115 government schools had been renovated by the education department and work was in progress. The court also directed the education secretary to submit a report with regard to the implementation of the law as well as the provision of funds for quality education to children, schools’ infrastructure and other related issues.
The secretary was told to submit a comprehensive plan within 20 days. The hearing was adjourned till February 26.
During a previous hearing, the secretary had submitted that the education department had prepared a framework to implement the law in letter and spirit. He said various schemes were in progress to improve the infrastructure of the government schools and funds had recently been allocated for the purchase of furniture.
He submitted that steps would be taken to improve the quality of education, curriculum and textbooks, governance and human resource management at the schools.
Regarding security of the schools, the secretary submitted that the government was making efforts to provide foolproof security to all the public and private schools.
Funds for hospitals
A Sindh additional finance secretary informed the SHC that the finance department had released funds amounting to Rs250 million for the upgrade of 80 operation theatres and purchase of machinery and equipment for various hospitals in the province.
The high court was hearing a petition with regard to the recovery of missing children, security, availability of doctors, medicines and working conditions of medical equipment at the government hospitals.
The petitioner, Saba, had submitted in her petition that her three-year-old son Noman had disappeared from the OPD of the Civil Hospital’s children ward on May 28, 2018 and his whereabouts were unknown since then.
The Civil Hospital medical superintendent (MS) had submitted in his report that the CCTV of the OPD ward was not functional.
The petitioner also complained of lack of proper medical facilities, and unavailability of doctors, medical equipment and medicines at the government hospitals.
Additional director finance Shahab Qamar submitted that the finance department had also released Rs49.562 million for maintenance and repairs of the hospitals. The health secretary confirmed that he had received those funds.
A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha directed Sindh Health Secretary Zahid Abbasi to submit a report.