LAHORE - The Punjab Government has not yet initiated any legislation to provide free education to the poor students of government schools, while it has spent billions of rupees for the construction of Danish Schools and distribution of laptops among students of colleges and universities, the Lahore High Court was told on Wednesday.This was revealed by the legal advisor of Punjab Schools Education Department and Additional Advocate General during the hearing of a petition seeking free education to the schools’ students under Article 25-A, added in the constitution of Pakistan through the 18th amendment. This was revealed in reply to a query posed by Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed as to why the government had not implemented Article 25-A by the given deadline of June 2011.The law officers informed the court that the Punjab government had written to the cabinet division for legislation under the said article and the government was in the process of drafting a law over the matter of free education for students of 5-16 years of age. They requested the court to allow more time for the legislation in letter and spirits.Petitioner Azhar Siddique argued that the Punjab government had not proposed to provide free education to the students and was using delaying tactics in this regard. He contended that the government was seeking more and more time without taking any practical steps, adding that no such bill had been presented in the provincial assembly for approval. He pleaded that the provincial government’s priorities contradicted the fundamental right to education, for every child as it had wasted billions of rupees on the distribution of laptops among the students and on Daanish Schools, but had denied to sanction funds to 61 thousand government schools which were deprived of basic necessities including teaching staff, class rooms, furniture, fans, electricity and washrooms.At this, Chief Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that parliament unanimously inserted Article 25-A in the constitution for the provision of free education, and now funds shortage could not be taken as an excuse for its non-implementation. He further observed that provision of free education is a fundamental right and the court will not take any excuses in consideration.The court has adjourned the hearing till April 26.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Apr-2012 here.