ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Saturday unveiled his government’s plan to launch a countrywide literacy movement to ensure enrolment of every child in the school, by introducing a package of incentives.
He said “Our effort is to achieve the targets, set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years.”
“A key target, set by UNESCO, is to increase resources for the education sector to reach 4 per cent of GDP by the year 2018,” said the Prime Minister, inaugurating international conference on `Unfinished Agenda in Education: the Way Forward’ arranged by the Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education.
The conference was also attended by Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Education Gordon Brown, CEO of Global Partnership for Education Alice Albright, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Governor Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar, Governor KP Engineer Shaukatullah, Minister of State for Education Baligh-ur-Rehman, Cabinet members, UN officials and parliamentarians.
The Prime Minister said the government’s objective was to develop an educational system that was compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy.
He stressed to focus on science and technology and modern skills in education system, besides calling for prioritization of female education in education policy, effective participation of women in the decision-making process and to protect their respect and dignity.
He said “for Pakistan, education was not merely a matter of priority, but, it is the future of Pakistan, which lies in its educated youth.”
“It has, in fact, become a national emergency. More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalization. Without education, this resource can turn into a burden,” Nawaz Sharif said.
He said the primary concerns in education were low budgetary allocations for education, a very high number of out of school children, high drop-out rates, gender disparity, low literacy rate and realizing the MDGs and EFA targets.
He said despite education, being a provincial subject, there was a national consensus on the need for reform and modernization of the country’s educational system to bring it at par with the national priorities and international standards.
He said the federal education ministry had recently launched a National Plan of Action in collaboration with the provincial governments providing a framework for accelerated progress towards achieving the MDGs.
“I believe that Education was not an expense but an investment into the future. Rather, it is the best investment an individual, parent or nation can make,” he added.
The Prime Minister said he had directed the Planning Commission to give education top priority in the prospective plan known as Vision 2025.
He said the private sector too, was playing an increasingly important role in the field of education.
“Out of the 14.4 million primary stage enrolments, 4.8 million i.e. 34% are enrolled in private sector schools. Private sector share is much higher at the lower middle and secondary levels,” he added.
Lauding the role of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, religious institutions, delivery agents, and donors’ community, he invited all to join the government in its mission to educate and train Pakistan’s youth.
“I have no doubt that they can turn around all our challenges into opportunities. They also have the potential to contribute immensely and positively to world peace and prosperity,” he added.
Thanking Gordon Brown for helping Pakistan, devise and implement its short and long-term strategies, in the field of education, the Prime Minister said the conference would provide a unique opportunity to develop effective coordination mechanisms to generate powerful synergies for accelerated progress in achieving the targets, including the MDGs.
Sharing his views on successful democratic transition in Pakistan, the Prime Minister dreamed a Pakistan where every citizen gets educated in the real sense and thereby contributes to the development of the country.Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2014