With just a few days left to the General Elections, several contesting candidates gathered to speak at a multi-party convention in Rahim Yar Khan and pledged specific measures to improve the delivery mechanism of quality education across the government-run schools.
The convention was organised by Mauj-e-Sutlej. The event was attended by Mian Imtiaz Ahmad, candidate PMLN NA-179; Umar Jaffar, Candidate PMLN PP-262; Rana Raheel, independent candidate PP-262; Asif Majeed, candidate PTI PP-262; Dr. Anwar ul Haq, candidate MMA PP-262; and Mian Rashid, candidate Tehreek-e-Labaik PP-262, along with parents, youth activists and civil society members in Rahim Yar Khan.
An analysis of the Rahim Yar Khan educational system showed that availability of schools beyond primary access, lack of school infrastructure and poor quality education are the three most important factors contributing to failing education standards in Rahim Yar Khan.
While speaking at the session, former MNA Mian Imtiaz from PMLN and ex-MPA Umar Gujjar representing PMLN described initiatives taken by the Punjab government, including Daanish schools and laptop schemes. Education and progress in IT are major priorities of the PMLN, it was said. It was also stated that the Punjab government has spent a lot of money on education and in its next tenure will increase the education budget further.
“Before 2013 there were only 2 colleges in my constituencies. I’ve had 3 girls degree colleges built in my constituency during this tenure,” said Mian Imtiaz
“Even thieves and dacoits want this children to get an education – that is what we have found through one of our projects. Parents want their children to get a quality education and the state must deliver it,” was the view of Samina Ashraf, a civil society representative.
“Education has not been prioritised thus far – if it had we would see it in the data. The voters have to decide whether they prioritise candidates who prioritise education? They must do so in this election. We only get to vote every five years, so we must decide now if our votes will be based on how education has been treated by politicians, manifestos and parties,” said Rana Raheel Ahmed Khan, an independent candidate for the Punjab Assembly.
Rubina Gul, a parent, pointed that that there is a major drawback in the PEC examinations – children beyond a certain age are unable to appear in them and there is no alternative for such students.
MPA Candidate from MMA, Anwar-ul-Haq, said: “All my children are enrolled in government schools. With the right resources, government school teachers can be better than private school teachers. Jamat-e-Islami intends to bring a holistic education reform if it is elected into government.”
Mian Asif Majid (PTI): “Education and health are Imran Khan’s biggest priority. We will lead by example and improve education all over Pakistan like we did in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tabdeeli (change) is not possible without education.”
A charter was presented at the meeting demanding that:-
1) All government high schools in Rahimyar Khan must have science specialist teachers and fully equipped science labs;
2) All government schools should be fully equipped with basic infrastructure including drinking water, safe buildings, classrooms, furniture and playgrounds; and
3) District-level initiatives to improve the quality of learning in government schools, including activity-based learning, maths and science competitions and improved teacher’s training.
All participants emphasised on prioritising education on top in development schemes and allocating more funds for education.
That day I decided to quit my job to become headmaster