On this International Day of Education, experts stressed the need to prioritise education, especially in disasters, so that learners are not deprived of their right to education. They also highlighted the role of political parties in ensuring quality education. These thoughts were expressed during a dialogue conducted by Awaz CDS and the Child Rights Movement with the theme of “to invest in people, prioritise education”.
This event was an effort to bring awareness to the intricacies of issues in the Education sector, according to Chief Executive Awaz CDS Mr Zia ur Rehman, via panel discussions of both the Development sector and government officials. He further said that the root cause of our education calamity is the need for more implementation of government policies already put in place. Once Pakistan succeeds in implementing the legislations and policies, progress and development are close.
The first-panel discussion addressed the challenges of provision and obtainment of education in times of disaster in Pakistan. National Coordinator Pakistan Coalition for Education Ms Zehra Kaneez pointed out that even those who had educational resources, such as schools, lost them instantly due to a lack of disaster-resistant measures and infrastructure; hence there is a strong need to invest in disaster-resilient systems and infrastructure.
Ms Baela Raza Jamil, Chief Executive Officer of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, highlighted the need for improved school infrastructure. She demanded more budgets and resources for education. Mr Syed Ishtiaq Ul Hassan Gilani, Chief Executive of the United Global Organization of Development, emphasised the added concern of child abuse and child trafficking that can significantly be resolved if Pakistan rigorously implement a free and compulsory education policy.
Ms Ayesha Khan, Country Director of Hashoo Foundation, segued into the next panel discussion by concluding the first one and reminding everyone of the importance of public-private sector collaboration and reasserting the effective role of civil society in addressing this nationwide educational disparity collectively.
In the panel discussion on “Role of Political Parties in Education”, Zubair Safdar representing Jamat-e-Islami, reiterated the issue of education governance and government schools. He said that government schools have great infrastructural resources, but the quality of education needs to be improved to gain parents’ trust.
Nafeesa Inayatullah Khan Khattak, Ex-MNA and member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, reminded us that education is the right of every child. One of the top priorities for her party and Malaika Raza, a Pakistan People’s Party member, agreed and informed that education is free in Sindh and 800 million Rupees have been invested so far in girls’ education in particular.
Raja Ateeq Sarwar, Senior Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League (N), concluded the second-panel discussion by emphasising the dire need for the provision of school infrastructure and resources, especially at higher secondary level for girls in rural villages.
Ms Aqsa Batool from Workers Welfare School Rawalpindi presented the Charter of Demand on Education. Concluding the session, Mr Zafar Ullah Khan, Executive Director Vision 2047, said Political party representatives influence their supporters and policymakers in jointly bringing the necessary reform needed in our education sector. Political parties must realise their ability to affect systematic change and act accordingly. The event was closed with a productive and thought-provoking Question and Answer session.