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> Frame Legislation and Rules to Implement Article 25-A: Experts stressed at PILDAT Forum on Enforcement of right to free education and article 25-A of the Constitution
   
 
PILDAT Public Forum
June 08, 2011
Islamabad


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Islamabad; June 08; In PILDAT Public Forum on Enforcement of the Right to Free Education and Article 25-A of the Constitution, experts stressed that necessary legislation and rules need to be framed for the implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution that makes the right to education as a fundamental right making it mandatory for the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from age 5 to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law. The experts urged the Provincial Governments to increase their education budgets and the Federal government to allocate special grants to under-developed Provinces/areas to facilitate implementation of this article. Experts believed that a separate and independent system for monitoring of enforcement of Article 25-A should be evolved by the respective governments. An Islamabad Resolution on Enforcement of Article 25-A was unanimously adopted by the Forum.

 
 

Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, MNA, former Federal Minister for Education, Senator S.M. Zafar, former Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Education, Ms. Shehnaz Wazir Ali, MNA, former Chairperson Higher Education Commission, Pir Mazhar ul Haq, MPA, Senior Provincial Minister for Education, Sindh, Ch. Javaid Ahmed, MPA Chairperson, Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Mr. Ali Sher Madad, Minister for Education Gilgit Baltistan, Mr. Akbar Durrani, Secretary Government of Balochistan, Mr. Fareed Qureshi, Special Secretary, Elementary and Secondary Education, KPK, Dr. Allah Buksh Malik, Provincial Secretary, Literacy and Non-formal Basic Education Punjab, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Country Representative UNESCO, Professor Laeeq Ahmed Khan, Education Expert, Dr. Eshya Mujahid Mukhtar and Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT spoke at the Forum.

 
 

Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali said that chairman Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms Senator Raza Rabbani had assured him during discussions on 18th Constitutional Amendment that only those subjects would be devolved which were in the concurrent list. He believed that on matters like education, health and environment, there must be a federal entity overseeing and regulating these affairs for uniform standards across the country. He said that the Parliament did a shady and unwise act in passing the 18th Constitutional Amendment as it devolved subjects of national importance to provinces without deciding any federal role which has created a vacuum.

 
 

Senator S. M. Zafar, believed that this is first time that free and compulsory education is made a constitutional responsibility of the state through the 18th Constitutional Amendment. He said that responsibility is rightly given to the provinces as they are given more resources in the NFC award. He said a private member bill named Right of Free and Compulsory Education will be presented in the Parliament after the on-going Budget session. He stressed provincial representative to urgently create a suitable law for implementation of free and compulsory education.

 
 

Pir Mazhar ul Haq, while giving Sindh’s prospective, said that education has always been a provincial subject. He believed that it is the right of the provinces to rule their people and provinces, should therefore be empowered. Provinces are very much capable of handling the subjects which are devolved to them. NFC award given to the provinces was their due right. The Sindh Government would review curriculum of class 1 to 6 this year and from class 7 to above next year. He urged everyone to move forward and help devolve more powers to provinces instead of criticizing their capacities.

 
 

Ch. Javaid Ahmed, presenting Punjab’s view said that the Punjab Provincial Government is making all efforts for the implementation of Article 25-A. He said that there should be one curriculum in public and private sectors of education across the country.

 
 

Ms. Shehnaz Wazir Ali said that 18th Amendment is a historical step which has given provinces their due right. She said that provinces have the capacity to fulfill the requirements of devolution. She said across the country every community wants education and nowit is up to the governments to provide them the required facilities.

 
 

Mr. Akbar Durrani said that Balochistan required more than 6000 schools to cater to the needs of all children of the province which has huge financial implications. He said that last year the province gathered a detailed data of the children across the province.

 
 

Mr. Fareed Qureshi informed the forum that a law has been prepared for the implementation of Article 25-A which will be personated to the Provincial Assembly of KPK for passage soon. He said that the KPK Government has already approved a curriculum for the province.

Dr. Allah Buksh Malik believed that Article 25-A will be implemented by the Punjab Provincial Government in latter and spirit. He informed that in the coming budget additional resources would be given for education.

Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata believed that the insertion of Article 25-A may accelerate the pace of achievement of national and international targets for free and compulsory education but further legislation is needed for the implementation of this Article. Provinces must initiate required legislation urgently. She said that at the moment there is a vacuum of coordination after abolition of the federal education ministry and the Federal Government should have a coordination mechanism in the shape of some independent directorate or commission. She believed that education budget must be enhanced as it is just 2.1% of the GDP. She said that it must be defined clearly that who will be monitoring the implementation of Article 25-A. She believed that civil society organizations could be included in the monitoring process. She stressed that there should be common national education policy as without that provinces may adopt different pathways.

Professor Laeeq Ahmed Khan said that in 1981 Pakistan’s literacy rate was 56% which dropped to 44% in 1998. Muslim literacy rate was 84% in 1860 across India. Federal and Provincial Governments have to work together to ensure provision of free education to all children. There has been no shortage of funds over the years but problem is the utilization of these funds, he said.

Dr. Eshya Mujahid Mukhtar briefed the forum about the financial implications of Article 25 A of the Constitution. She said that net enrolment rate of children of the ages of 5-9 years is 57%in Pakistan. Total education expenditure was Rs. 259,525 million in 2009-10 while 19 million children of the age of 5-9 years were out of school in 2009-10. Required primary education budgetary outlay is estimated to be around Rs. 1300 billion for which education budget is to rise from current 1.77% to 3.18% of the GDP by 2015-2016.

Earlier Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT, said that PILDAT’s objective behind organizing the Public Forum is to generate an informed discourse on new demarcation of roles and responsibilities after the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, abolition of the concurrent list and insertion of Article 25-A in the Constitution of Pakistan that guarantees the right to free and compulsory education to all children of age 5 to 16 years in Pakistan. This free and compulsory education is to be provided by the State, which by definition includes both Federal and Provincial Governments. After declaring education a provincial subject, will it be the exclusive responsibility of the Provinces to ensure that Article 25A is implemented in letter and spirit, or the Federal Government will also be responsible to fully or partially support the provision of this Constitutional Right to all children in the country? This Article (25-A) also necessitates further legislation (by the Provincial Assemblies) to facilitate the enforcement of free and compulsory education.