LAHORE - The Punjab government, School Education Department, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Unicef and Unesco jointly organised a two-day consultation workshop on Sustainable Development Goal – 4 (SDG-4) “the Education 2030 Agenda”.

Representatives from Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, School Education Department, District Education Departments, other provincial departments, donor community, civil society organisations, academia and media participated in the consultation.

Speaking at the inaugural session, Education Minister Rana Mashhood highlighted the efforts of the Punjab government. He reiterated the government’s firm resolve to bring in reforms. He invited development partners to join hands with the provincial government, particularly in relation to appointment of new teachers, pre and post recruitment teacher training and building new schools.

Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training expressed his concern over the 6 million out-of-school children. He said that the provincial consultations on SDG-4 are being held in the country quite well in time, which provides a unique opportunity to develop an integrated strategy not only to address the unfinished agenda of the MDGs, but also for the advancement of quality education in Pakistan.

Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training emphasised the need for awareness raising on SDG-4.

He said, that effective implementation of the SDG-4 agenda at provincial level could only be possible through working with the district education officials.

In his opening speech, Chief of Field Office, Unicef Punjab, Douglas G Higgins stressed on the high level of commitment at the federal and provincial levels to ensure access to inclusive, equitable and quality education for children.

Vibeke Jensen, Representative/ Director Unesco while making a presentation on the SDG-4, unpacked the seven targets of the SDG-4 and its three means of implementation. She highlighted that transformative and universal in nature, the new education agenda attends to the unfinished business of the EFA targets and the education related MDGs.

However, in the backdrop of devolution, the fundamental responsibility of implementing the SDG-4 agenda in Pakistan lies with provincial governments. Financing the new education agenda is essential, yet there is a need to look into the utilization capacity of the provinces to use the available funding in education sector.