LAHORE: A staggering 15.15pc of children surveyed between 5 to16 years were found to have disabilities. The disability prevalence survey was conducted by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA).
Meanwhile, the recent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has revealed the gender imbalance is prevalent nationwide. Amongst the enrolled students in government schools, 43pc are girls and 57pc are boys and in private schools, the ratio is 56pc and 44pc for boys and girls, respectively.
These statistics, presented in an event on Thursday, compressed in a nutshell the situation of education for both marginalised groups – girls and those with disabilities with a focused discussion on Punjab and how the government could help provide an inclusive and equitable education in its mainstream. The event was organised by the ITA and was divided into two dialogues.
The first dialogue was organised in collaboration with the UKAid Department for International Development (DFID), University of Cambridge, IDEAS Pakistan, FESF and Sightsavers. It was titled ‘Addressing Issues of Equity and Inclusion: Exploring New Pathways’.
It was proposed that in order to measure the disability prevalence across the country, there was need to scale up the survey to the rest of the country. Results from the learning assessment of visually impaired and deaf children, using the braille and the Pakistan Sign Language adapted ASER learning tools, showed that visually impaired children were performing remarkably well despite only 33pc of schools having facilities for them. It was highlighted that sign language should be taught to the deaf children to help them communicate and learn.
All the stakeholders promised to take on the work, pledging to actively work on the recommendations proposed during the dialogue.
The second dialogue was organised in collaboration with the Punjab government, DFID and Oxfam on ‘Education for All: The Leap to Gender Equality’.
Baela Raza Jamil, chief executive officer of the ITA, initiated the discussion. Farida Shaheed delivered the keynote address and pointed out the key factors contributing to persistent gender inequality.
Others on the panel were Fauzia Viqar, chairperson of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), Uzma Kardar, chairperson of Standing Committee on Gender Mainstreaming, Waqar Azeem, director programmes Punjab Social Protection Authority, Amna Khalid, social development adviser, DFID and representatives from L&NFBE and UNICEF.
In the session, it was pointed out that Pakistan had the second largest number of out-of-school girls.
Fauzia Viqar said the low indicators for girls’ education also reflected the overall low indicators for women, including life expectancy (68.2 years), maternal mortality rate (178/1,000) and labour force participation (24pc). The figures were gathered by Gender MIS of PCSW 2018.
Baela Raza shared the steps taken by the ITA to promote gender equality and justice.
Uzma Kardar vowed to take up these issues of imbalance in assembly and committee proceedings while a representative of Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry also spoke about mainstreaming transgender community.
The panelists included Waseem Abbas, additional secretary of literacy and non-formal basic education, Waqar Azeem, director Programmes of Punjab Social Protection Authority, Amna Khalid, social development adviser DFID, Rubina Nadeem, educationist, Unicef and Akram Khurshid, programme manager Oxfam.