Govt to declare education emergency

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on 9 April 2024 announced that the federal government would declare an education emergency in the country and would provide all possible resources to educate children of poor families.

He vowed to replicate his idea of free education to children of the poor and deserving families by establishing Daanish Schools in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, GilgitBaltistan, and remote areas of Balochistan and Sindh to fulfill aspiration of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

`This is not the fault of the poor children if their parents cannot afford to provide top quality education to their children despite working hard…If iron gates of the Aitchison College or Grammar School are obstructing their way (to top quality education), the door of Daanish Schools are open for them,` the prime minister said He expressed these views while speaking at a ceremony, organised for the inspection of a site for Daanish School being established in Kuri area of the federal capital.

To be established over 30 acres of land, the school will provide free education and accommodation to the children of people of low-income group from the capital city and its suburbs. The school will be built in Kurri area at an estimated cost of over Rs5 billion.

Calling the alarming figure of 26 million out of-school children a ‘criminal negligence’, the prime minister said that Quaid-i-Azam`s dream about Pakistan would remain unfulfilled without making arrangements and ensuring top quality education for the children of the poor people of the country.

`There can be no bigger national service or the fulfillment of the responsibility than enrolling these out-of school children into schools,` Mr Shehbaz said, adding that the federal government would bear all expenses of constructing Daanish Schools in AJK, the GB and remote areas of Balochistan and Sindh.

The prime minister told the gathering of federal ministers, bureaucrats, heads of international institutions, educationists and students that Daanish School project was initiated under PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif`s vision.

Recounting the journey of the project, the prime minister said the PML-N had to face a lot of criticism for launching this initiative to support the children of the people belonging to low-income groups, but it remained steadfast in its commitment to ensure top quality education for the children of the people of low-income group.

He also recalled that under Nawaz Sharif`s leadership, the PML-N government gave away laptops to students in the past which became an earning tool for them. Besides, he said, the then Punjab government also recruited around 200,000 teachers purely on merit.

He said the groundbreaking of Islamabad’s Daanish School would be performed soon and asked the education ministry to ensure the project’s completion within six to eight months.

He also announced that he would personally inaugurate Daanish schools to be established in AJK, GB, Balochistan and Sindh.

Malala for bigger budget allocation Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzal on 9 March urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to increase expenditure on education up to four per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In a letter written to the premier, Ms Malala said Pakistan was spending less than 2 per cent of its GDP on education and she wanted it to reach and surpass 4pc of the GDP.

`Our work with the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has allowed us to reach more than 4,500 high schools, engaging directly with nearly 500,000 girls through our STEAM partnership. We also support civil society and education experts in their efforts to improve teaching practices, digital education, and girls` leadership development, she said.

The Malala Foundation had given Pakistan $15 million for the promotion of education in Pakistan, Ms Yousafzal wrote, requesting the new government to focus more on girls’ education. ‘As you develop your first 100-day plan, I look forward to working with your government to elevate girls` education as a priority. I assure you that my team in Pakistan and our grantees are working diligently with your federal and provincial governments, as well as other development partners, to advance our shared goals as rapidly and effectively as possible,’ she wrote.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 10th April 2024.

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