Assembly had passed ‘Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012’ unanimously to ensure free and compulsory education to all the children of age five to sixteen years as enshrined in Article 25-A of the Constitution, but the government did nothing to ensure its implementation despite lapse of several years.
Under the bill, every child, regardless of sex, nationality or race, shall have a fundamental right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school, but the governments have miserably failed to get all the children in this age bracket into schools.
The government has seemingly forgotten the bill, which was passed in haste without any homework, hence nothing could be done to achieve the milestone hitherto.
Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 launched by the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) – a subsidiary of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training revealed a quite alarming statistics, as 22.6 million children are still out of school.
A senior official in Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) told Pakistan Today that it was true that no work has been done regarding implementation of the bill hitherto, because it was impracticable in a country where education did not exist in the priority list of the ruling junta.
The official said that Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme (PMERP), under leadership of Maryam Nawaz to upgrade standards of education and uplift the state of government schools running by Federal Directorate of Education, even failed to yield the desiring results.
He said that around 44 per cent children between the ages of five and 16 were still out of school, which necessitated the need to declare education emergency, but here the ground situation tells a different story altogether.
The official said there were only 423 government-run educational institutions in the federal capital, which even could not meet the requirements of half of population of the city what to talk about providing free and compulsory education to children.
“The mushroom growth of private educational institutions speaks volume of the government apathy’s towards education sector, as neither a single school has been constructed nor a teacher has been hired in the metropolis by the incumbent government during the last over four years,” he lamented.
He said that a large number of students have been denied admission in the public schools due to paucity of place due to which during admission time parents could be seen running from pillar to post to ensure their kids’ admission.
Talking to this scribe, Private Schools Network President Dr Muhammad Afzal Babur said that the number of registered private schools was around 2,000 in the federal capital, while there were few hundred government-run schools, reflecting the government’s non-seriousness towards the education sector.
He said that though the private educations were carrying huge burden but even then they were being targeted instead of giving credit of performing the duty which ought to be done by the government.
He said that private institutions were accommodating millions of students and they took up the gauntlet because of the government’s inability to accomplish its due responsibility.
However, according to the detail obtained from Private Educational Institutions Regularity Authority (PEIRA), there are 1,242 registered private educational institutions (PEIs) in Islamabad along with students’ strength of 259,699 [Boys – 149,229 & Girls – 110,470].
Talking to this scribe Faisal Bari, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives and an associate professor of economics at LUMS, said that the government so far did nothing for the implementation of the hurriedly-passed bill.
He said that its implementation needed huge resources, timeframe and most important the government’s attention, but the government seemed merely interested in including a clause in the Constitution since no spadework had been done regarding its implementation.
Bari said that federal and provincial governments have yet to make the mandatory legislation for implementation of the constitutional amendment.
Despite repeated calls and text messages, CADD Secretary Nargis Ghalo could not be reached for her comments on the issue. However, when approached CADD Parliamentary Secretary Maiza Hameed, she sought one day time to give a detailed answers but she did not honour her promise despite delaying a story for a day.
Wazir, Khan. Implementation of Article 25-A remains a dream. Pakistan Today, August 22, 2017.