Right to education: 61% of fifth graders can probably not read this article

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In a rare show of solidarity, nine political parties pledged to ensure that steps will be taken to increase enrolment, minimise dropout rates and improve the quality of education.

There are 2.77 million children between the ages of five and 16 out of school in Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and no legislation to implement Article 25-A which deals with the right to education.

“We are committed to ensuring 100% enrolment in K-P so that every child between the ages of five and 16 is in school,” said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Maliha Tanveer at an All-Parties Conference organised by Alif Ailaan on Friday. “Living up to this commitment is the real test of political leadership. The people have voted for us because they believe in our ability to fix their problems. Unless we fix education, we can’t create a new and improved Pakistan.”

Currently, four out of 10 children in the province are not in school. Meanwhile, those who are in school are not learning enough –  61% of grade 5 students are unable to read a simple story fluently in Urdu or Pashto while 62% cannot perform simple two-digit division.

“Getting children into school only solves half the problem,” said former education minister and MPA Sardar Hussain Babak. “Besides increasing enrolment, we need to ensure that children stay in school and receive quality education that prepares them to compete with children who attend the country’s elite private schools. This will be the real measure of our success.”

Leaders from across the political spectrum spoke passionately about the deplorable state of education in K-P. They expressed their commitment to education reform and unanimously lauded Alif Ailaan’s work to build political consensus on the issue.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the government of K-P and support their efforts to ensure education for all in the province,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Amina Sardar.

Representatives of civil society organisations attending the conference urged the government to give quarterly progress reports. Speakers also highlighted the gender disparity in education in K-P. Currently, only 33% of children of school-going age are girls. Furthermore, the net enrolment for girls in primary schools is as low as 43% in rural areas. This drops to just 12% in middle school and as little as 5% in high school. Political leaders agreed on the urgent need to address this issue.

Also present at the event were former Awami National Party MPA Shagufta Malik, MPA Najma Shaheen, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Romana Jalil and Asif Iqbal Daudzai, PML-N’s Ruqia Hina, Asif Iqbal Daudzai of JUI-F and former MNA Maulana Ghulam Sadiq.

Source:The Express Tribune.