Education emergency: State’s duty to ensure free education reiterated

Experts attend launch of book which focuses on privatisation of education.

Our Correspondent November 26, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Educationists, and civil society representatives have asked the government to ensure enrolment of 25 million out-of-school children and ensure free education for all.

The state must not absolve itself of its responsibilities  in the face of growing commercialisation of education, they said, while speaking at the launch of a book “Privatisation, Education and Social Justice”, published by the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative.

The speakers said there was a need to ‘reconceptualise’ the role of schools, which is considered only a government entity instead of a part of the society.

The book, written by Ian Macpherson, focuses on privatisation and education. With regards to Pakistan, the book focuses on privatisation in Punjab, the excess of private tutoring and the quality of education in ‘low-fee’ private schools.

According to the book, up to 15 per cent of school-age enrolments in rural areas of the country were in private schools.

“Private schooling is important not just for the rich but also plays an important role for the poor, though the spread has been uneven,” according to one of the findings of the book.

The growth of private schooling has meant that many parents have the option of sending their children to private schools, the book states.

Research fellow at the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences Ahmad Ali said the state should view education as a public good that belongs to everyone in the society.

He argued that private schools have reduced the demand of quality education in government schools.

In Pakistan, it is estimated that 30 per cent of children were enrolled in private schools, a figure that surpasses 25 million, and continues to increase due to the dismal state of education in public schools.

The book launch was organised by the Pakistan Coalition for Education in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2014.


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