Parties sign up to education agenda

Editor

 

ISLAMABAD: The leadership of almost all major political parties came together in Islamabad to commit their support for the provision of quality education to all Pakistani children. In a landmark education conference titled Ailaan-e-Amal, the leadership from PML-N, PPP, PTI, National Party (NP), ANP, Jamat-e-Islami, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), PSP, MQM-P, PML-Q, JUI-F, PKMAP, and BNP-M pledged to go beyond political differences and proceed with a minimum national reform agenda for education,  ahead of this year’s general election.

The national education conference was hosted by education campaign Alif Ailaan. Political representatives in the meeting included Punjab School Education Minister Rana Mashhood, KP Education Minister Muhammad Atif Khan, ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak and Sardar Hussain Babak, PTI’s Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, PPP MNA Dr. Azra Pechuho, MQM-P Convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Faisal Subzwari, JUI-F MPA Noor Saleem Khan, BNP-M’s Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini, PkMap’s Senator Usman Kakar, PSP’s General Secretary Raza Haroon, QWP’s MPA Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli and Barrister Masroor, NP’s Senator Muhammad Akram, and PML’s Central VP Ajmal Wazir Khan.

 

In a unique gathering of political leadership, the national commitment to improving learning outcomes in schools and delivering on the State’s obligation to provide compulsory and free education for all children between ages of 5-16 was discussed.

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The gathered political leadership discussed and pledged their support for a minimum reform agenda, which included

  1. a continual increase in provincial and federal education spending taking it to 4% of the GDP, supported by substantial governance reform to ensure that the allocated funds are spent effectively and transparently
  2. a national data regime that captures data on all children in all types of schools, which is shared openly and publicly to ensure transparency in reform
  3. Mandatory pre-service and in-service teacher training, with career progression based on performance and training
  4. All Pakistan’s children to be tested at Class 3, Class 5, and Class 8, regardless of geographical location or schooling system they are enrolled in
  5. Ensure enrolment and retention of all children between the ages of 5-16 (in primary, middle and high schools, including madrassas) and bringing gender parity in graduation rates from primary to middle
  6. Designation of “education deprived areas” for Union Councils who are underperforming on gender parity, retention, provision of post primary schools and quality of infrastructure

The reform agenda was detailed in a Charter for Education, which was signed by all the present political leadership. All parties committed to ensuring that the agreed charter was adopted into their respective election manifestos. They also committed to developing a plan of implementation within 100 days of the oath-taking of the future CMs after the upcoming elections.

PTI’s Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar stated, “In a country like Pakistan, where 23 million children are still out of school, a national emergency must be declared after the General Elections. We will need to set strict targets to get them all in school and get them learning.”

PPP MNA Dr Azra Pechuho was of the view that there is a need for legislation extending beyond the provision of free and compulsory education to legislation on quality, teacher availability and budget utilization.

KP Minister for Education Muhammad Atif Khan said “Party leaders should sign Ailaan-e-Amal so that their voters can hold them accountable after the elections.”

Punjab School Education Minister Rana Mashhood stated “It is heartening to see that all provincial governments have prioritized education since 2013 and Punjab, specifically, focused on providing quality education.”

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