MUZAFFARABAD: Lawmakers from Sindh and Azad Kashmir have resolved to raise voice and take concrete policy level steps to ensure girls’ education and gender equity in their respective areas.
They were speaking at a workshop, part of the ‘Gender in education policy support project’ jointly initiated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Federal Ministry of Education and UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) in 2007 to ensure accelerated progress towards gender parity and equality at all levels of education by 2015.
The delegation from Sindh, led by senior minister for education and literacy Pir Mazharul Haq, included chairman and some members of Sindh Assembly’s standing committee on education.
Members of the standing committee on education were also part of a caucus constituted in Sindh Assembly to advocate removal of gender disparities in education.
Lately, a similar caucus was also formed in the AJK Legislative Assembly, but of its 15 members only seven were present in the workshop. AJK minister for school education Sardar Farooq Ahmed Tahir skipped the event at the eleventh hour.
The AJK education department was represented by Dr Najeeb Naqi Khan, who holds the portfolio of health and college education.
After the Unicef chief of education Bartholomeus Vrolijik welcomed the participants, Muqaddisa Mehreen, Unicef education specialist, apprised the workshop of gender disparities in education in the backdrop of Pakistan’s international commitments as well as supply and demand side factors.
The ratio of school-going children in 26 countries, which were poorer than Pakistan, was more than that of Pakistan, she said but added:
“Nevertheless, the budgetary allocation for education was 2.5 per cent in 2006-07 and 2 per cent in 2009-10.”
The parliamentarians shared their observations, experience and suggestions with each other.
Those from AJK said though the ratio of school-going children in their region was satisfactory, there was a need to improve management systems.
But their counterparts from Sindh listed a number of causes of gender disparities in their province.
The problem was serious in the rural and not in the urban parts of Sindh, they said, pointing out that due to ‘sifarish’ culture appointments of teachers were made on the basis of political affiliations most of whom would hardly attend to their respective institutions.