MPAs vow to support girls’ education efforts

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PESHAWAR: A number of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly members on Wednesday vowed to support the girls’ education efforts in the province and signed a consensual statement to reaffirm the commitment.

The resolve was made during a consultative meeting on girls’ education organised by a non-governmental organisation, Blue Veins.

The members of the standing committee on Elementary and Secondary Education and other lawmakers were briefed by KP Education Department on the existing schemes, progress made and challenges, especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It was noted that the country is facing a serious challenge to ensure all children, particularly the most disadvantaged, attend, stay and learn in schools.

While the enrollment and retention rates are improving, progress has been slowed to improve education indicators in Pakistan, it was observed.

It was added that an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 are out-of-schools in the country, which makes Pakistan the country with the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending schools, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group.

The KP Assembly members discussed that the pandemic had put a spotlight on the critical nature of schools and education in the province and on the need for safeguarding education systems for the future.

Muhammad Arif Ahmadzai, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Mines and Minerals Development and SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Taskforce KP Assembly convener said: “The systematic collection and analysis of data related to education during the pandemic is a model for the future that can ensure the evidence-based decision and policy-making in education is free from political agendas.”

Member Provincial Assembly Pakhtun Yar Khan, Chairman, Standing Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, said: “We can learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic that could make education policies more evidence-based, inclusive, responsive and transparent. The KP government is committed to improving girls educating and our renewed efforts for collaborative actions will make it better and normal for the future”.

Special Assistant to KP Chief Minister on Prisons, Taj Muhammad, said that COVID 19 had revealed how essential it is to examine and question the evidence to make decisions free from biases and false assumptions.

He said the crisis has fostered intangible goodwill, which could materialize in the form of significant education reforms provided we seize every opportunity to learn lessons from the pandemic.

MPA Madiha Nisar, Chairperson Standing Committee on Higher Education said: “Keeping girls in the education system is now a priority even in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As we are facing the second wave of COVID-19, we are learning how to live alongside this pandemic in the education system. But this determination to keep schools open reveals the growing awareness about education is critical to human development and empowerment and demands the need to safeguard our education systems”.

Qamar Naseem, Programme Coordinator, Blue Veins, said that COVID-19 has widened inequities and heightened the urgency of bridging the gaps for the world’s most marginalized learners. He said the coronavirus pandemic has shown us a new world — one where the status quo no longer exists. He said the pandemic has also shown us the wisdom of what is already inherent in the SGD4.

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