ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said on Friday that a knowledge revolution could be brought in the country by enrolling maximum number of the out of school children.
He said that education was necessary for the development of Pakistan. “The Vision 2025 underlines the need for developing a knowledge economy,” he said in a statement on the occasion of the launch of the national campaign for enrolment of out of school children.
Earlier, Iqbal formally launched the month-long national primary enrolment campaign titled “Chalo School.” He said that Pakistan had been graded among countries having the highest number of out of school children. Up to 24 million children and youngsters up to intermediate level need to be enrolled. He said that education had been devolved to the provinces under the 18th Constitutional Amendment, but still the federal government could not be absolved of its responsibility. The federal government and provinces should employ well-coordinated efforts to achieve the targets, he added. Iqbal said the main idea for the national enrolment drive emanated from a previous experience of similar nature; one such campaign was launched on International Literacy Day on September 8, 1999. It was decided to enrol 100,000 out of school children, but 876,000 students of elementary level got enrolled, he said. Keeping in mind that experience, he said, the national enrolment drive would continue from April 1 to 30 with the cooperation of provincial governments, civil society and other stakeholders.
He said that newly enrolled children would be given gifts. He said that parents and children would be educated about the enrolment through the electronic and the print media. He said the prime minister, chief ministers, senators, National Assembly members and the members of the provincial assemblies would patronise the enrolment initiative. All public representatives accompanied by district education officers will visit their electorate and get children enrolled. Every elected member of the assembly would get at least one out of school child enrolled in the school, he said.
Similarly, the private sector will be engaged through the FPCCI and provincial chambers of commerce and industry. Students of elite schools will contribute gifts to the campaign for the out of school children. The government is moving fast to allocate three percent of the GDP for education. He said that later four percent of the GDP would be allocated for education.
Iqbal said that education conditions in Balochistan were not promising because educational facilities hardly existed in the far-flung areas. He said the education budget had been increased by 24 per cent and the plan was to enrol 160,000 to 400,000 children this year. The Balochistan government offered Rs500 at the time of the admission and then Rs200 per month along with free books to the children getting admission to schools. At present 0.89 million children are enrolled in schools and 1.1 million are out of school, he said. He said that efforts were being made to increase the number of middle schools.
The admission policy had been revised and boys and girls were allowed to enrol at the same schools at the primary level.
He said that Gilgit-Baltistan was a mountainous community, but had better enrolment figures than other provinces. In areas like Diamer, it is impossible to open girls schools, and 75 home schools had been opened for girls. Gilgit-Baltistan is facing problem of resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the children of these people were being accommodated in other schools.