Minister calls for addressing education challenges

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ISLAMABAD: Education Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on 23rd April 2024 said challenges of education could not be addressed until the provinces and the federation worked in unison. He highlighted the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders were on the same page and owned the direction taken by the federal government in resolving the current challenges of the education sector.

The minister said access to quality education, teacher training and infrastructural and curriculum limitations were the greatest challenges that need to be prioritised. He said this during a meeting with United Nations Children`s Fund (Unicef) representative in Pakistan Abdullah A. Fadil, who called on him on 23rd April 2024.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Education Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani and other senior officials.

Mr Siddiqui acknowledged the services of Unicef in the education sector of Pakistan and appreciated its role in helping the country create equal access to quality education for the citizens.

He said the ministry of education was working on a holistic plan to create a `National Education Framework` under which the federation and the provinces would be equal stakeholders.

This policy would be launched within a month, he said, adding that all provinces along with donor partners would be taken on board to create a national consensus.

The minister said the feudalisation of education needs to end, adding it was high time that every Pakistani can attain their right to education irrespective of their background.

Mr Fadil said Unicef has been present in Pakistan since 1948. He said it supports efforts to increase access to quality education for all children in Pakistan with a focus on marginalised and vulnerable populations.

`This includes initiatives to improve school enrollment, retention and learning outcomes as well as promoting inclusive and child-friendly learning environments,` he said, adding Unicef spent $150 million from 2018-2013 on its education programme in Pakistan and that this budget had been increased to about $250 million for the next five years.

He said that the forum of Foundational Learning Alliance which included all the major donors in Pakistan would be keen to join the concerted effort under the banner of the National Education Policy.

The education secretary said the federal government will pledge support for the underprivileged areas of the provinces such as slums to ensure broader inclusiveness under the National Education Policy.

The ministry has also launched a national nutritional strategy under which meals were being provided to underprivileged students in Islamabad to ensure their attendance in schools.

He also said early childhood development (ECD) was a key priority area whose scope needs to be expanded.

The Unicef representative acknowledged its importance and committed to launching a pilot project of ECD in Islamabad.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 24th April 2024.
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