Speakers lament lack of progress on Article 25-A
In a day-long conference, organised by Ilm Ideas, speakers urged the government to increase the budget for the education sector and focus on improving formal education.
Planning and Reforms Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said across the globe, the medium of education at the primary level is the mother tongue but in Pakistan, students are forced to grapple with English.
`Students learn better in their mother tongue and have room for creativity. We require a bilingual system at the primary level,` he said.
The minister claimed that the PML-N government is working towards bringing improvement in the education system and investing in teachers` training. `We will also bring changes the examination system,` he said.
Ahmed Ali, a research fellow at the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences said it is unfortunate that Article 25-A was introduced more than five years ago, yet implementation has not been seen.
He said that under this article, the state is responsible for providing free education, textbooks, uniforms and transport.
`The inability to afford uniforms and transport are major barriers for students and currently the government is not taking any steps towards providing these facilities,` he said.
Society for Advancement of Education Executive Director Abbas Rashid also emphasised the provision of the constitutionally guaranteed free education.
`Under this article, the state is responsible for not only providing free but quality education,` he said, adding that it is the government`s responsibility to ensure that rules of business are formulated.
Mr Rashid said rules of business are yet to be formulated and procedural inadequacies have also not be removed from the existing law.
In his speech, researcher Dr Salman Humayan focused on the importance of decentralisation of the education system.
Rights campaigner Mohammad Atif Shiekh shed light on the rights of students with disabilities and said Pakistani students with disabilities are neglected by the state.
`If the government takes a few steps, disabled students could also attend school,` he said.
Iftikhar Hussain Khan, an officer of the Directorate of Curriculum and Teacher Training Muzaffarabad said that there is no special development budget for the education sector in AJK.
`Out of the education department`s entire budget, 85 per cent goes towards salaries. Under these circumstances, we only have 15 per cent development budget and it is difficult for the department to take any big initiative,` he said.
He added that despite the shortage of fund, the government of AJK has made efforts to improve education for students with disabilities.