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Pakistan Coalition for Education and Oxfam GB roundtable discussion

Islamabad, December 18, 2012 (PPI-OT): All Parties agreed unanimously agreed to increase the education budget 5-7% of GDP in next five years, uniform education system in Pakistan and increase capacity of teachers for improved education system inn Pakistan as one of key party agenda during and after elections. The civil society gave slogan of ‘Vote for Education” during the roundtable discussion with political parties organized by Pakistan Coalition for Education and Oxfam GB.

The following political representatives made it to the forum: Syed Bilal from Jamaat e Islami, Jalil Jan from JUI, Salahuddin Sheikh from MQM, Fauzia Naz from PML_Q, Shehla Raza from PPP and Hina Manzoor from PTI. In an unfortunate circumstance, ANP were not able to participate and PML-N despite several entreaties and a letter requesting Mr. Nawaz Sharif to send representatives, regret to participate in the dialogue.

Talking to policy dialogue Ms. Zehra Arshad National Coordinator from PCE said that as per article 25 A of the Constitution of Pakistan, the state is responsible for provision of free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to Sixteen years. Keeping this in view, the state is mainly responsible to ensure the provision of basic facilities more specifically education to the citizens.

Unfortunately, Education is never the priority of any government, evidences reflect that official literacy is still 56% with wide gender and rural-urban disparities, high dropout rates across the country, 30% of children receive secondary education and most importantly, the lowest budget (less than 2% of GDP) among all the South-Asian countries are some of the examples of deteriorating status of education in Pakistan.

Harris Khalique said that all parties should focus on uniform education system, medium of instruction, availability trained human resource and teachers, effective utilization of allocated budget and increase in GDP and appointment of female teachers at primary level .

Dr. Shehla Raza , Deputy speaker Sindh Assembly and active member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party said that education is like a back bone of the economy in each country. There are high drop outs from class1-2 and then class 5-6 due to poverty, no access to school due as there are one third of middle schools as compare to primary, among dropout majority of them girls. She stressed the need of collaboration between executive, CSO and political representatives to deal with issues related to education.

Mr. Bilal – from Jamat-i-Islami stressed the need of one strong education policy according to constitution which cannot be upheld during any political government’s regime, he said that if there party comes to power they will work to bring 100% literacy during their 5year tenure. He said that these dialogues help to multiply effort of all stakeholders who are working for the public policy domain

Mr. Abdul Khalil Jan and Ms. Banori from JUI stressed upon the uniform education system in Pakistan. They also suggests that and madrassa education should also be included in the minimum common agenda for education

Mr. Salahuddin Shiekh from MQM said that there should be one school in the community 5000 population. He said that MQM will also work to raise education budget up to 5% of GDP. He also stressed that these dialogues should be on regular basis and MQM acknowledge PCE initiatives in this regards

Ms. Fouzia from PMLQ said that there party is focusing on increase number of trained teachers, opening up of new schools, increase in GDP by 5% and training of teachers in upcoming election manifesto.

Ms. Hina Manzoor from PTI said that there should be no political interference in transfers, appointment and other related issues to education. She said there party has drafted a comprehensive paper to improve the status of education if they will come into power.

All Parties mentioned above discuss their party agenda related to education which they will be focusing in upcoming elections. A minimum point agenda proposed by the civil society was shared with the floor in order for the political representatives to provide their party vies and agendas on education especially in regards to the upcoming national elections and to further debate upon the minimum points in order to reach consensus on the common issues and agenda points between all the political parties.

After a very detailed discussion of the parties’ respective education agenda and achievements, the floor opened to a heated debate on the future agenda for the upcoming elections. After a long and interesting discussion, the parties’ representatives were able to reach agreement and in fact signed the minimum point agenda drafted by PCE for consideration by the policy dialogue participants. All parties representative signed the minimum agenda for education with consensus that include

1. As a follow-up to the 18th Amendment and RTE, coordination mechanisms should be created at all level (federal and provincial) to reflect national aspirations in education. There should be minimum National standards of education that Provinces and federal should follow.

The center and provinces should coordinate their capacity development initiatives in respect of textbooks development, assessment standards and quality assurance, teachers’ standards, school infrastructure, learning aids et al.

2. Formation of an interprovincial committee/ commission responsible for monitoring and evaluating the progress of education policies, plans and implementation of Article 25(A). This should have federal and provincial government representatives along with legislators, educational experts and civil society representatives as concerned stakeholders. Revision and adaptation of national education policy 2009 in relevance to the change national scenario under 18th amendment and RTE

3. Availability of schools at primary, elementary and secondary level based on contextual needs and demands, priority should be given to areas /locations where none exists, along with allocation of human and financial resources.

4. Ensure transparency and accountability in the education processes to help implement initiatives for improving the access and quality. Stakeholders’ involvement should be increased to enhance people’s participation in the processes and system.

5. Effective and efficient allocation utilization of allocated budget. All parties should together meet the national commitment of increasing allocation to education to 4% of the GDP and progressively raise it up to 7% within next five years as promised in National Education Policy 2009.A real interpretation of the budgets and its figures and statistics is required for actual improvement, and therefore, transparency and accountability. Ensure transparency in allocation and disbursement of educational funds.

The allocation should follow an approach based on data driven evidence, rights and affirmative action in favour of disadvantaged sections of the society, rejecting political influence and caste/feudal/tribal prejudices.

6. Ensure gender parity and equality in teachers’ recruitment, salary structure, incentives and continuous professional development. Women should be preferred as teachers at the primary school level, gradually increasing their numbers to 100%.

7. Political parties must take measures for uniform education system in the country to meet quality standards.

8. Political parties should adopt girls’ education as a core priority area in their political manifestoes with time bound commitments and prioritise higher allocation to Girls Education in budgetary provisions and make visible efforts to achieve gender parity in education.

9. Develop a system in consultation with communities to ensure that the educational process remains uninterrupted by disasters, conflicts and displacements, with adequate core budgets for preventive measures, trained personnel in emergencies since schools serve as the front line shelters.

11. Quality assurance should be directed towards reforms in teacher education and training together with changes in the curriculum and assessment systems. Emphasis on teaching practice and a proper support/monitoring system for teachers should be put on priority by the provincial governments.

12. Revision of school curriculum through open consultative process by, engaging experts and stakeholders. That must ensure relevance, cultural diversity; local context and global realities are adequately included, with special attention to heterogeneity, pluralism and universal human values as found in all religions, discouraging ethnic, linguistic, regional and cultural prejudices. The curriculum document of 2006 should be critically examined with respect to the above and modified where necessary as a live document for time bound implementation.

13. Technical education largely remains marginalized; investment in this sector on a priority basis, ensuring that our youth are provided high quality modern technical education in large numbers through innovative partnerships with schools, industry and social entrepreneurs.

At the end Saeedul Hassan from Oxfam thanked all participants and stress the need of joint effort from CSO and political parties to devise strategies around this minimum consensual agenda of education

For more information, Contact:
Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE)
Sarfraz Ali Kandhir
Media Liaison Officer
Tel: 0314-2877170
Web: http://www.pcepk.org/

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