LAHORE - Number of out-of-school children is alarming in Pakistan. Some 22.6 million students have no access to schooling as government policies are not addressing the issue, seriously jeopardising their future. There is a dire need to impose education emergency in the country.

As many as 47 percent of children between the age of five and 15 are living a life out of formal education and they need immediate attention at the state level. These were the views that the speakers expressed at a two-day international conference on Inclusive Education arranged by the Department of Special Needs Education at University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore here on Tuesday.

The speakers emphasized on making effective policies and implementing them with the concept of inclusive education, which according to them has become a popular theme for improvement of schools across the globe. Education departments are planning to introduce inclusive education at primary and secondary levels and HEC is also actively working on inclusive education policy, but the official patronage is needed at all levels, they said.

UMT’s International Conference on Inclusive Education is the second international conference of its kind in Pakistan. This year’s theme for the conference was “Accommodating Diversity: Creating Educational Environment.” The Conference offered an opportunity to explore what it takes to be inclusive in education and how could we include all in order to improve the quality of education. A good number of research papers were presented in the conference on a number of themes like children’s rights in education, access and equity, diversity and inclusion, challenges in equal participations in education, pedagogy for inclusive classrooms, and reforming teacher education for inclusive education.

Addressing the conference, UMT Chairman Prof Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad said that inclusive education means more inclusiveness in the process of schooling, mentoring and pupils’ grooming intellectually.

 He said it is the responsibility of the state to provide access to education to every member of society regardless of caster, colour, gender, geography, race and religion. He said due to a number of social factors like stereotypes found in people, poor law and order situation and terrible economic crisis people are not sending their children to schools, which is resulting in no-inclusiveness not only in education, but also in social development.