2.8 million children between the age of 5 and 16 remain out of school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despite Rs. 73,685 million budget.
Education is the best tool to ensure long term 'rule of law' in Pakistan, conclude participants at the education governance roundtable.
"The PTI led coalition provincial government has worked hard to ensure transparency of education governance through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013", said Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Minister for Information, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while chairing the Education Governance Roundtable at the Peshawar Press Club. "We declared education emergency in the province, started an education campaign and brought 0.35 million students back to school", he further said.
"The Right to Information Act passed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial assembly in 2013, has further strengthened the constitutional rights of citizens, empowering them to hold government officials accountable", said, Puruesh Chaudhary, Director Mishal Pakistan, while facilitating the group discussion. Education is the key to cultivate peace and rule of law in society, she added.
The Provincial Meeting on Education Governance convened in Peshawar today to discuss the current state of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The roundtable discussion took place among key stakeholders from the education sector, the dialogue aimed to highlight the importance of government and media partnership in enhancing accountability. The provincial meeting was organized by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with ILM Ideas (a 3 year UKaid funded program).
The objective of ILM-o-AGAHI initiative is to improve accountability and media coverage of priority education issues and build consensus on education policies by engaging stakeholders, including media and policy makers.
The ruling party in the Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) manifesto advocates budget allocation of 5% of GDP for education. The Economic Survey of Pakistan (2013-2014) states that the enrollment rate has improved to 91% in the year 2012 to 2013 as compared to 89% in 2011 to 2012 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Zahir Shah, Senior Journalist, while moderating the discussion highlighted that in past, said that the education institutional structure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has suffered a lot due to the regional conflicts, further worsening educational indicators in the province and adjoining areas. The way forward to the province is to address the community needs and upgrade the standards of the lost infrastructure along with the capacity building of the teachers and other human resources.
Media and government both have ignored education; we should design a curriculum that will unite the entire nation, said Nasir Hussain, former president Peshawar press club.
The participants also argued about the government's methodology to engage the same development partners in education sector reforms and curricular development, who have failed to deliver for the past several years.
Curriculum definitely requires due attention but meanwhile the government has improved enrollment and has focused on merit based selection of teachers, said, Azam Khan, District Education Officer, Peshawar. He stressed on the importance of education to improve the collective consciousness of the society. He further said that the government has made education a priority and is working towards improving the quality standards at the primary and the secondary level.
Asif Malik, Assistant Registrar COMSATS University Islamabad, said that education is like linchpin in the development of nations, without which the house of cards falls. In a country like Pakistan, the house has already fallen due to lack of seriousness towards most pressing issues of Pakistan.
Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Information Minister to Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Muhammad Arif, Deputy Director Elementary and Secondary Education, Azam Khan, District Education Officer Peshawar, Zahir Shah, senior journalist Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Nasir Hussain, former president press club and representatives of the non-governmental organizations and the journalist community attended the roundtable dialogue.
Mishal Pakistan with academicians and researchers produced a literature review in 2014 assessing an overarching complexity and trivial underlying causes that has subjugated the communities to an idealistic narrative on education. The study witnesses “Education Governance and Accountability” as the most underreported area in media. While the literature reviewed does speak volume of increasing public spending on education little does it discuss the possible Educational Governance models. This underreporting further positions the growing need for a dialogue to essentially build mechanisms that streamlines the transparency and utility of existing budgetary allocation for primary and secondary education.
Mishal Pakistan is the partner institute of the Center for International Media Ethics and the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum. Mishal assists the forum in creating soft-data on Pakistan, identifying Pakistan’s competitiveness challenges including primary health & education and higher education. Agahi Awards, an annual series of journalism awards in Pakistan, is an initiative of Mishal Pakistan and AGAHI, developed under the umbrella of the Credibility Lab creating an appreciation methodology for ethical and quality content. The theme of this year's Agahi awards is also going to be 'Education'.