PESHAWAR - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) Joudat Ayaz has said that the provincial government enrollment drive would prove a milestone to get each and every child of the province into school.

“Our target is zero children out of school,” he said while talking to the officials of Education Department and representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations here on Sunday.

The meeting was aimed at getting input and support of the civil society organisations and experts in the field of education to make the enrollment drive a success set for September 08 in connection with the International Literacy Day.

“This time we will refrain from doing stereo-type things we have been witnessing for the last six decades. We in the KPK government are committed to taking some sustainable steps to improve literacy rate in our province,” he said, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman has shown his willingness to be part of this campaign as well. He, nevertheless, hastened to add that it would not be a single-party venture, but all the political forces must become part of this all important national cause as well.

The provincial secretary told the meeting that roughly 1.5 to 2 million kids, within 5-9 years age, are out of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the government is targeting 30 per cent of them would bring 0.5 million children to schools. “So far as the infrastructure is concerned, we would have to use technology and management data to better allocate students as some schools are under utilized while others have less capacity so we can accommodate another 30 per cent students using the same schools,” he said.

A well-devised monitoring mechanism would be put in place to keep a close eye on the dropouts and a competitive rating system shall be put in place to encourage a healthy competition within districts as best performing districts and their DEOs would be recognised, he said.

Joudat Ayaz further added that strict measures would be taken to put a permanent damper on corporal punishment to ensure that no child leaves school because of this very reason. E&SE Additional Secretary Qaisar Alam said that non-formal education system would also be strengthened, enabling the working children to educate themselves.

“In the first phase, our focus would be on enrolling entrants at the age of five, while in the second phase, up to nine-year children would be admitted to non-formal schools,” he said.

Manal Bakhtiar from Adam Smith International (ASI) gave a presentation on Emergency Enrollment Programme, highlighting the issue pertaining to enrollment of the students strategy to get maximum number of kids into schools. She said that Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera, Mardan, Swabi, Swat, Mansehra, Chitral and Tank were among the top 10 districts with maximum number of out-of-school children. She suggested the formation of district steering committees, headed by the Deputy Commissioners of the respective districts to persuade the parents to get their kids enrolled in schools.

Prominent among the participants were the representative of Department of International Development (DFID),

ASI, British Council, Telenor Pakistan and Alif Ailaan.