Govt Imposes 4 Year Education Emergency

The federal government has tentatively decided to announce a four-year state of education emergency across the country to address the issue of out-of-school children and other critical concerns in the sector.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to declare the education emergency in the upcoming days. Sources revealed that the Prime Minister was scheduled to preside over a conference on Tuesday, but it was postponed on Monday night due to his prior commitments.

Pakistan currently grapples with 26.2 million out-of-school children (OOSC) and a low literacy rate of 62%. Additionally, the government’s meager expenditure of 1.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the education sector is a cause for concern. Disparities in the availability of essential facilities such as toilets, clean water, and boundary walls in schools across different regions further exacerbate the situation. Many schools, especially in rural areas, lack basic amenities like potable water.

Last month, Federal Education Minister Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, following a briefing on OOSC and educational facilities nationwide, announced plans to urge the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet to declare a national education emergency.

The recent Pakistan Education Statistics report for 2021-22 highlighted that 39% of children in Pakistan are out of school, with Punjab accounting for 11.73 million, Sindh 7.63 million, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 3.63 million, Balochistan 3.13 million, and Islamabad 0.08 million.

The Ministry of Education, in a press release issued before the postponed meeting on Monday, emphasized the commitment to ensure education for every child. The National Conference on Education Emergency, initially scheduled for April 30, aims to address issues like out-of-school children and learning poverty, particularly in lagging districts.

The conference, chaired by the Prime Minister, will be attended by chief ministers, development partners’ country heads, diplomats, foreign delegates, and global educationists. It aims to foster collaborative efforts to devise effective strategies and initiatives for inclusive and quality education nationwide.

Due to the Prime Minister’s engagement in Saudi Arabia, the proposed conference has been postponed for a week. Secretary of Education Mohyuddin Ahmad Wani emphasized that improving the education sector remains a top priority for both federal and provincial governments. He stated that the education ministry, in coordination with all stakeholders, is actively working to implement necessary improvements, as directed by the Prime Minister and the education minister.


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