KARACHI: Leaders of nine political parties of Sindh along with provincial education minister Nisar Khuhro signed a pledge on Thursday calling for 100 percent enrolment in the primary schools of Sindh.
The pledge was signed at a seminar organized by a non-governmental organization, working on education across the country, Alif Ailaan. It was signed by Pakistan People’s Party PPP), Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PMLF), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Sindh United Party (SUP), Awami Jamhoori Party (AJP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
Speaking on the occasion, Senior Minister Education Nisar Khuhro said that the education sector had seen a great downfall in the province but it was not the time to criticize each other; instead we should point out weaknesses in the education sector. “Unless we will not point out the weakness in this sector we can never move forward.”
Khuhro said that there were several reasons behind education downfall in province including the previous governments who ignored this sector, bureaucrats who had no dedication to improve education system in the province and poor parents who were not able to send their children to schools due to economic problems.
He said that improvement was needed in every department of the education sector including a close check on teachers and education officials, completion of infrastructure projects and others.
The education minister said that the allocation for education from the budget had increased from Rs25 billion to Rs132 billion in recent years but it was worth mentioning that majority of the budget is being spent on the salaries of employees and teachers.
He said that the government had encouraged adoption of government schools while private sector was also promoted to invest in education sector. “Absence of teachers from schools is the biggest reason of illiteracy in the province as children wanted to learn but the teachers were not present in schools. We will introduce electronic machines which would be helpful in ensuring the presence of teachers.”
He said that the government would bring legislation in the assembly with the support of political parties to ensure 100 percent enrolment in the schools. “People lay blame on us for ignoring merit during appointments of teachers in the province but now we had introduced a mechanism where everyone had to pass the NTS exam and then proceed in order to ensure merit on teachers’ appointments.”
He said that the government was trying to concentrate on improvement of higher education and 40 universities would be established in the province in order to improve education at higher level.
He said that there were 5000 schools that were closed but the government will reopen 3000 of them after appointing new teachers and ensure their presence at the schools.
MQM parliamentary leader in Sindh Assembly Syed Faisal Sabzwari, appreciated Alif Ailaan’s advocacy for improving education sector during last year’s election campaign and said that his party would extend its full support for government’s initiatives to improve education.
He said that the enemy, Pakistan is facing today, was those who want illiteracy and we could defeat it by spreading education in every corner of the province. “These elements not only blew up schools in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but they are also targeting schools in Karachi.”
PML-N leader and MPA Irfanullah Marwat said that serious steps were needed to improve literacy rate in the province. “Increase in budget had not caused any effect on the betterment on the education sector; instead it needs serious administrative steps to tackle these problems.”
He said that his party was ready to support the government on this issue and they would support government’s resolution supporting 100 literacy rate in the province.
JI leader Mohammad Hussain Mehanti said that the education sector was more important than the nuclear programme of our country and it needed serious steps from the government to provide education to each and every children of the country.
Former Ambassador of Pakistan in United States and PPP leader, Sherry Rehman extended her services to teach at a local school for one month and said that elected representatives should also give their time to teach children for at least one month at some school.
She also called for revision on syllabus and said that some subject should be revised and lessons creating hatred towards neighbours should be removed in order to move this country to establish good relations with neighbours.
Several other leader including Mehtab Akber Rashdi from Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Arif Alvi from Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf also spoke.