The K-P government has been lagging behind in the implementation of the 18th amendment that ensures free and compulsory education for all children below the age of 16. The bill has been pending since the Awami National Party’s tenure and nearly three years after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took power, the assembly has still not succeeded in passing what is a constitutional requirement, the only province to have failed in doing so as Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan governments have already passed laws to make education free. And it’s been some years since the other three fulfilled their constitutional duty. With the provincial leaders usually outside the province and protesting at national level and federal issues, K-P continues to be neglected. Meanwhile even in provinces where the law has long been passed, it is clearly not being implemented. Countless children continue to be employed in street jobs or begging. If provinces have passed these laws, then why are so many children out of school on any ordinary day? According to the draft bill being formulated for K-P now, parents will be punishable with imprisonment up to one month or fine which may extend up to Rs100 for every day as the legal penalty for not sending children to schools or with both.
It is hoped that not only is this law passed and fully implemented but also that schools fulfill their purpose of a place of learning. Schools need to become spaces that parents do not need to be convinced to send their children to and students are not scared of instead of producing millions of children who are fearful of the abuse they may face at educational institutions.
Failure to completely follow the 18th amendment has repercussions on the people of the province who elected representatives to better their living standards instead of endless politicking in the capital.
The ruling party of the province prides itself in its performance, always taking up the role of the watchdog for other political parties and governance elsewhere. It is time to focus back on its primary duty of governing K-P.
It is hoped that the K-P government passes and implements this law at the earliest and realises that all delays on their part are denying children a fundamental human right.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2017.