The participants called for a concrete action plan to address the education emergency in Sindh
Karachi - 19 June 2021: The Government of Sindh (GoS) should come up with a concrete action plan to address the worsening state of education in Sindh, demanded the participants at an online launching ceremony of the report ‘The Political Economy of Education in Sindh in 2020’, produced by the Hari Welfare Association (HWA).
Akram Khaskheli, President HWA, said that free and compulsory education is our constitutional right, but the government failed to provide this right to each child. More than 6.4 children are out of school, and they belong to peasants and labor families; girls' education in rural areas of Sindh is in the worst condition; due to missing facilities and lack of teachers, thousands of schools are dysfunctional at ground level. Govt should increase budget in education and ensure its proper utilization; govt should functionalize all schools immediately to address children dropout issue, govt should recruit teachers as per need on an urgent basis to address teacher shortage issues, political involvement is dangerous in the education department, child labor has increased due to lack education in rural areas.
Qazi Khizar, Vice-Chairperson HRCP, said that Sindh has always introduced laws on human and children’s rights, but the implementation has remained a serious problem. He also complained that the government was not serious about providing data on education. He said that he has calculated that in reality, in Sindh, 7,500,000 children from 5 to 16 years of age were not going to school.
Baela Raza Jamil, CEO Idara Taleemo Agahi Pakistan, showed concerns that the government has stopped sharing data on children in and out of schools. She added that the government should share the data on every aspect of education. Raza said that the public and private education system is a colonial legacy that persists and continues to grow and causes poverty and divide of the poor and rich. She suggested that the government should decentralize education and provide powers and resources to the communities to deal with education affairs. However, the government should play the role of monitoring. She also lamented that the government has progressed to introduce laws on the right to education, but implementation is zero.
Sadiqa Salahuddin from Indus Resource Center said that the government’s education data does not count the increasing population of children; the number of out-of-school children is too high because more children are born but are not calculated as part of out-of-school children. She also regretted that most children do not go to school, and if they go to schools but do not learn. She added that no one is concerned about these children. Salahuddin added that the most imminent problem is girl children and their mobility. They do not have access to schools, and they cannot attend coeducation schools because of cultural barriers. She regretted that the government has been treating teachers as criminals, which decreases the morale of many good teachers who spend their energies to promote quality education. However, she also confessed that in many schools, teachers punish students, which also causes dropout.
The ILO was represented over the event by Abid Niaz Khan. He said child labor is a great cause for concern and resonates with the UN’s declaration calling 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. In Sindh, the most reasonable window is political government. In particular, the stakeholders can harness this window of opportunity towards helping children realize their legal rights-compulsory schooling for everyone below 16.
Dr. Abdullah Khoso, one of the report's authors, said in every country, education is politicized. However, in Sindh, it is politicized too much where resources are misused and misappropriated without anyone’s notice. He added that every dimension within or with the education sector is political, including distribution and utilization of resources. He also added that Sindh's education system is nothing but pure political economy around the distribution (or not distribution, or misappropriation) of economic resources.
From the Sindh human rights commission, Zulfiqar Shah said that if the government provides Rs25000 minimum wage to adult workers, child labor will significantly reduce and send their children to schools. Ambreen Zahra, national coordinator Child rights movement in Pakistan, said that the government has resources to produce accurate data on education. Mir Behram Lehri, Child Rights Movement (CRM) Balochistan chapter said that depression and stress also cause dropout from schools. Therefore, mental health in schools should be given priority. Adnan Khaskheli, from Sindh human rights education, said that there is a lack of data on education. However, he added that in some areas, schools exist, but they have extremely low enrolment.
AD Jamali from teachers association, Qamar ul Nisa Dhamrah member Sindh Commission on Status of Women, Asif-ul-Bashar and many others also spoke on occasion.