Provinces asked to utilize maximum budget for education
Islamabad, In Pakistan, education department is not structured enough to integrate all educational, nutritional and health related indicators together. Provinces are on driving seats now and they can decide on which measures they want to take in delivering education, said Shahnaz Wazir Ali.
Addressing the participants of the World Food Program (WFP) National School Feeding Plenary Session, She said the provinces need advocacy for improving educational facilities and utilizing maximum budget towards education, enrolling more and more children in the institutions.
She said that the government has provided Rs400 billion to the provinces to design and implement good education infrastructure. “It was discussed in Wednesday’s meeting with UNESCO and other counterparts that there would be free compulsory and quality education from grade 1-5 especially in KPK. Now, it is time to provide citizen advocacy to the provinces so that they can build the required and exceptional infrastructure of education in the country,” she said.
She said that WFP has recognized the critical situation of education in Pakistan and came forth to assist in building education capacity of the country. “It has not only participated in the flood disaster and earthquake but also in the insecurity aspects of Pakistan,” she added.
Representative of FATA Directorate for Education Fazle Mannan said that federal list has been abolished and now 18th Amendment miraculous achievement can be seen as provinces are given more authority to implement their programs. He said that FATA has lowest literacy rate of 32% (3 % girls and 29% boys), according to the 1998 population census. “FATA is 30 years behind rest of the provinces of the country because of internal and external issues especially law and order situation,” he added.
Planning Commission Representative Mohammad Ayub said that national nutritional survey and other relevant data of six months period shows that we are facing nutritional problems emerging with double pace and capacity day by day. “1,600 calories are consumed across the boundaries within each household while the data indicates that intake of food has declined from 2,000 calories to 1,600 calories during past few years,” he said.
He said that decline in food indicates has led to the increase in the dropout at school level. “Nutritional deficiency and dropout from schools are co-related. We have 30% malnourished children in Pakistan who cannot attend schools because of this deficiency,” he added.
Unesco Representative Arshad Saeed, in his presentation titled ‘Constitutional Amendment No. 18 — Prospects and Issues for Education Sector in Pakistan,’ said the insertion of Article 25-A in the Constitution is a tremendous achievement however, concerted efforts are needed to implement it.
He said further legislation is needed to implement this article along with passage of education act and framing of rules. Seven million children aged 5-9 are out of school and the provinces have to increase spending on education sector, he said.
Unesco Country Director Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata said that the rise in oil and food prices has negative impact on the communities. The high demand on UN economies has negative impact on poor population who cannot prioritize their needs.
“In 18th amendment, we have to work for all the children including poor, government and private etc. Our beneficiary must be most disadvantaged and challenging, suffering from nutrition,” he said.
He said that Pakistan government has made a new program of benefits for disabled today. “We have to give incentives and look at the demand side so that supply of education and nutrition should equally be provided. To reach most disadvantaged groups Unicef, Unesco and Pakistan government are working together,” he added.
WFP Country Director in Pakistan Wolfgang Herbinger said there is one-third dropout in schools in Pakistan while nutritional deficiency as micronutrient is not even satisfactory. “For past three years, the situation of Pakistan has been deteriorating and environment is difficult. No doubt, there are new opportunities for the humanitarian actors as provinces who always take lead, need to be partnered with,” he said.
He said that this is the time to set our priorities as we have just come out of the biggest flood in the history of Pakistan. He believes that it is an opportunity for us, now to assist these schools and provide required facilities. “It is important to inform teachers that they should create awareness among students about what they should do in the case of any disaster. WFP’s DRM is serving this purpose as it is expanding geographically to create the awareness of disaster risk management that should be taken care of by everyone in a society,” he said.
He said that now, we have education atlas that visualizes the progress and whole information about WFPs school feeding program. It is a web-based version that can be accessed by anyone who needs information on education developmental program of WFP. Chief of Education (Unicef) Bart Vrolijk said devolution of education has fixed responsibility on the provinces to educate the children without discrimination.