President Asif Ali Zardari signed ‘The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012’ into law on Wednesday.
The bill, which sought to ensure all children between five to 16 years of age are provided free education, was signed in a special ceremony held at the Chief Minister House in Karachi. Terming the day historic, the President said, “In pursuit of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s vision of free and compulsory education, the government has fulfilled yet another promise made to the people.”
Congratulating the Parliament and other political forces for the bill’s enactment into law, he urged provincial governments to promulgate similar legislations in their respective assemblies as well. He said the responsibility for providing free education rests with both federal and provincial governments, referring to article 25-A of the Constitution.
Elaborating upon the newly signed law, President Zardari said the federal government will now provide free textbooks and uniforms to children and ensure schools have qualified teachers. Free pre-school education, early childhood care and free medical and dental inspection will also be provided to all citizens and no child will be subjected to corporal punishment
“Under the law, private schools will be required to provide free education to disadvantaged students, who will comprise 10% of each class,” Zardari said, adding that school management committees will be established to persuade parents into sending their children to schools.
“We will honour our international commitments and achieve the targets set by the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals initiatives. Islamabad Capital Territory will be a role model in the education sector for the provinces.”
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