LAHORE: The annual Children Assembly of Pakistan was held at Aiwan-e-Iqbal which was attended by ministers, government officials, representatives from political parties, civil society, media as well as a large number of children on Thursday.

The children assembly was held in order to address fundamental issues surrounding education; especially existing inequality between boys and girls under the aegis of Oxfam in collaboration with ‘We Can’ and SAP PK.

Right to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 5 and 16 years was recognised under article 25(a) incorporated in 18th constitutional amendment passed in 2010. Children assembly provides a platform to more than 200 children from public schools from over 36 districts across the country to be model as change makers by advocating constitutionally recogniaed Right to Education and engaging with policy makers as well as wider civil society.

Currently, Pakistan has 12.9 million out of school children, ranking second in the world after Nigeria. 50 percent of school children (aged 6-16 years) in Pakistan can neither read nor write.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashood informed about the various initiatives that the government was taking to promote education. He further said, “To promote education Right to Education bill is to be presented in Punjab Assembly in the next session. At the federal level National curriculum commission has been formed to make a uniform curriculum so that quality education can be provided throughout the country.” During the proceedings of the children assembly four committees were formed which passed the resolutions that the government must adopt a policy to improve the curriculum which promotes unity, interfaith harmony, cooperation, inclusiveness for all children, promoting higher education, upgrading of primary schools to secondary level and improving the infrastructure of schools. Furthermore, Government must ensure timely disbursement of funds, should ensure effective use of budget, should undertake comprehensive annual school planning and must take effective measures to increase enrolment and control dropout.–Staff Reporter