Education emergency on the cards

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ISLAMABAD: Education Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said on 17 April that the ministry was working on a programme to declare an education emergency in the country to tackle the issue of out of school children (OOSC).

He stated this while talking to British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriott, who called on him at the ministry.

The meeting was attended by Country Director British Council James Hampson and Secretary Education Mohyuddin Wani.

The minister said the number of OOSC in Pakistan was ballooning and the only way to address the issue was by making it a national agenda. He said due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation and slums in major cities, the number of OOSC was increasing as slums were ignored in every education policy.

He highlighted the importance of ensuring that no child is left behind, says a press release.

Mr Siddiqui urged the UK to provide support in the cause of eliminating out of school children. He said we need to bring all stakeholders especially donors on the same platform so that efforts can be channelled and streamlined.

The minister said various initiatives were being taken to bring improvement in the education sector, saying: expense on education is not expenditure but investment.

The British high commissioner said UK and Pakistan were the oldest partners and had been shoulder to shoulder since 1947. She said UK encouraged expansion of its green programme which can lead to an increase in enrolment of Pakistani students in UK universities via distance learning.

She said Google Education was highly interested in supporting Pakistan in its bid to address the issue of access to education.

The high commissioner and the education minister also discussed the challenges and opportunities following the devolution of education to provinces.

The secretary education said the ministry was developing a comprehensive plan which will declare an education emergency in the country and align all stakeholders on the same page.

He said all donors and NGOs operating in Pakistan were working in silos and compartments.

Earlier, the minster while talking about youth said, `we have set a target to train one million youth in the IT sector.

He hoped that in the medium term, Pakistan will become one of the biggest suppliers of IT professionals to the world. He asked the UK to help in attaining IT certification for IT trained professionals that would be recognised globally.

The minister said the ministry aims to establish mental health awareness and support desks in all colleges in Islamabad.

The country director British Council told the minister that after China the biggest British Council Programme was in Pakistan. He said the global chief executive of British Council will be visiting Pakistan in May.

The minister welcomed the initiative from the British Council and expressed the desire to enhance collaboration between the council and Pakistan, especially with respect to increasing educational outreach programmes for slums in metropolitan cities of the country.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 19th April 2024.
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