ISLAMABAD: Marking the start of Global Action Week, Girls Education Alliance Pakistan (GEAP) held a discussion forum on Tuesday to analyse the different aspects of promoting girls’ education in Pakistan.
Addressing the participants, former education minister Zubaida Jalal said that the education sector in Pakistan has been facing serious challenges to accommodate parents’ perspective on education which might include easy access to quality education, de-politicisation of the education system, and provision of basic facilities for education in far-flung areas of the country. Zubaida was of the view that a huge sum of monetary support was being provided to Pakistan by different donor organisations and countries, but unfortunately, no efforts were being made to consolidate the information and develop a holistic picture for effective analysis and quality input.
GEAP is an alliance recently formed by four different international organisations – Action Aid Pakistan, Oxfam, Plan International and the Care International – . These organisations have been working in different parts of the country to promote access to quality education. To develop synergy and to influence policy decision-making, these organisations realised the need for an effective alliance to bolster their campaign and help Pakistan achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Haroona Jatoi, an educationalist and professor at Quaid-e-Azam University said that it was the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to create an enabling environment for the promotion of girls’ education which could only be achieved if the devolution of power to local level is ensured.
Action Aid Head of Programmes Daud Saqlain said that the alliance needed to focus on a single point agenda for policy advocacy campaigning. He was of the view that gender responsive education financing was the key area which required immediate attention for enhancing the access to quality education. He said that the rural areas of Pakistan were lagging far behind in terms of both access to and the quality of education.
Saeed Hassan from Oxfam said that the political parties, after one year in the government needed to be reminded of the pledges they made to the public during their election campaigns. He said that the civil society should rally public support in exerting pressure on the provincial and federal governments to improve the access to quality education, particularly for girls.
Mukhtar Pasha from Care International said that different actors and players have been out in the market to make their contribution for the promotion of quality education sector. Iffat Jamil from Plan International said that the alliance members need to bring in people’s perspective to their efforts, as all of them are working in different parts of the country. People should lead the movement to pressurise their respective governments for enhancing education financing, and improving access to quality education.
Azhar Lashari from Rural Development Policy Institute (RDPI) said that promoting the concept of ‘citizenship’ was integral to enhancing the quality of education. People led transparency boards can help analyse local budget for education and make appropriate recommendations. Mukhtar Ahmed, an educationalist and representative of the Punjab government said that there are numerous loopholes in the education system which requires analysis and improvement.
This year, the focus of the campaign is on the theme of “Education and Disability” under the slogan “Equal Right, Equal Opportunity”. The consultation highlighted the profound challenges faced by persons with disabilities in realising their right to education. To mark the GAW, and as the first joint strategic engagement by the GEAP, the dialogue helped it put the stakeholders and collective acts together to collaborate more synergistically and meaningfully to bridge the commitment and implementation gap in education policies and practices in Pakistan.