Right to Education – Article 25: A a score card, 8 years from 2010
Did justice really get delivered to Tayyaba on April 17, 2018? If it did, it was very effervescent, would you all agree? The perpetrators of violence against the child are people of financial and legal substance, knowing very well how to manipulate the system. However, for our child rights defenders, the judgement is a ‘victory’, as they abided by the rule of law, and shall do so for the next round to pin down the criminals. But why did Tayyaba end up as a child domestic laborer? That question pushes us to look at our perforated system of child protection where the two foremost shields of support for the child, the family and the education system remain very fragile. Tayyaba fell through the cracks of both institutions. Despite ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labor(WFCL) to which Pakistan is a signatory, ‘child domestic labor’ is yet to make it to I82 WFCL list in our country! Why?
“Tayyaba”, I am taking refuge in you today to write about the right to education as it is the 8th anniversary of Article 25 A in our Constitution that finally guaranteed ‘education as a fundamental right” for all children 5-16 years of age. That is you Tayyaba, a right that you did not get so far in your life. 25 A was granted to us through a wonderful democratic dispensation as part of the comprehensive 18th Amendment which brought about many substantive shifts within the 1973 Constitution and also for the education sector in Pakistan. To date, those shifts are not fully understood; the Federal Concurrent List was abolished making education along with 46 other important subjects completely provincial, (or almost); this led to the closing down of 17 federal ministries. Perhaps, that was an overkill, as many would agree; there are plenty of relevant articles in the Fourth Schedule of the Federal Legislative List Part I and II extending important responsibilities for the federal government. For education, the subjects at federal level include; “external affairs-implementation of treaties and agreements including education and cultual pacts and agreements with other countries (1); libraries….(15) ..research, for professional and technical training, promotion of special studies (16);..Pakistani students in foreign countries (and vice versa) (17) international treaties, conventions and agreements (32). These are no doubt important work areas with accountability for the federal government.
Education was fully devolved to the provincial governments, allowing them complete decision making powers for: curriculum, syllabus, policies, planning, standards, centres of excellence and implementation. In the period of adjustment to devolution, from 2010 -2015, the provincial governments courageously crafted their sector plans and targets, raised the budgets for education to 20%+ of the total annual budget and made appropriate laws. At the federal level, post 18th Amendment, the former Federal Ministry of Education was wrapped up in March 2011, but was soon resurrected in July 2011. Now it is well entrenched as the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training working on several fronts including Policy, Standards, Curriculum, Assessments, TVET, Monitoring and Federal/Inter Provincial coordination through the Inter Provincial Education Ministerial Conference (IPEMC). The question is, whether this spectrum of federal work areas is part of the mandate or not, but more importantly how do we see the federation pushing the urgency of 25 A/ right to education.
Well Tayyaba I wish I had better news for you regarding the scorecard on 25 A after 8 years. Our state is responsible through all its organs to provide right to education for the said age group. This means, provincial, local, federal govts. and other state bodies who must ensure a fundamental constitutional right.
Legal & Implementation Status 25 A, Right to Education (RTE) in Pakistan
Laws for 25-A have been passed in the four provinces and Islamabd Capital Territory (ICT) but only Sindh has rules made and notified. Implementation has yet to begin and FATA/Gilgit Baltishtan do not have legal coverage for 25 A as yet. Alif Ailaan, a powerful research and advocacy platform has published five year provincial reports, sharing targets met and those missed; more than 22 million children are still out of school grossly violating 25 A. And Tayyaba, we all know that it is not just enrolment that is the target of 25 A, but more importantly, children’s learning outcomes; that is sadly another tragic story in Pakistan. So are we taking 25 A seriously? The political parties promised a lot on education in their manifestoes; some did deliver too, whilst others did not! With these large number of children not in school, clearly education is still not a priority area in Pakistan, home to 208 million people! The politicians will soon come knocking on your door, asking for votes in the upcoming general elections, but please do make your parents ask them, if they are committing to Article 25 A and its implementation. Yes make sure that your voice counts!
Tayyaba, I know you have gone through a lot already in a short lifespan, but you must demand your rights; there are millions more who need protection through education. You are well known and must raise your voice for many more children, so that you can make dreams come alive; to learn, to become, to grow and to be happy and strong in our country.
Implementation is imperative for 25 A; the society must push the ‘state’ to perform its minimum fundamental obligations, and education is both fundamental and a catalyst for achieving many more essential rights.
Baela Raza Jamil –RTE & ASER Teams
CEO –Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)
Right to Education Initiatives 2018
19th April 2018 – Pakistan
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