The goal of 100 per cent school enrollment in the Punjab will likely be achieved by 2018, MPA Qamarul Islam Raja said on Wednesday.
Raja, who is the chairman of both the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and the Punjab Assembly’s Standing Committee on Education, was addressing a policy dialogue organised by ActionAid Pakistan.
“The government is allocating budgetary resources according to requirements of various districts to address the issue of missing facilities and to promote quality education.
The government has directed the EDOs to post a minimum of two teachers in primary schools, failing which action will be taken against them,” he said.
Raja said that the PEF was in the process of opening 1,500 new schools through private partners in 36 districts. “Around 1,000 of these schools will be at elementary level. This will also promote girls’ education in remote areas where girls fail to get education owing to long distances between homes and schools.
Girls are about half of the 1.6 million students enrolled in 4,000 partner schools of PEF,” Raja said.
He said that Rs28 billion was allocated for the School Education Department in the current budget. “The teachers’ attendance ratio has climbed to 93 per cent in the province. The government also introduced digital monitoring system to ensure transparency in the education system,” he said.
ActionAid acting programme manger Irfan Hoat said that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognised education as a fundamental right. “It is one of the most important rights for human survival. Education helps reduce poverty, child mortality and population growth. It also helps achieve gender equality and ensure sustainable development,” he said.
He praised the Punjab government for the enactment of the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 in compliance with the constitutional provision for the provision of free and compulsory education for all students in the 5-16 age bracket. He stressed the importance of developing rules to ensure effective implementation of the law.
Civil society representatives from Layyah and Bahawalpur presented research on district education budget analysis at the event and stressed the need for enhancing the capacity of district managers for timely spending of budget allocated for education.
Iftikhar Muabrik from Plan International Pakistan said that there was a need to allocate more financial resources in post-primary education for girls. “This can be a good strategy to prevent marriage at an early age. The Punjab government must also build the capacity of teachers to counter corporal punishment,” he said.
MPA Lubna Faisal said that the government was committed to promoting education. “The government ensured 100 per cent transparency in recruitment of educators. The Directorate of Staff Development is training teachers to develop lesson plans,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2015.