Article 25-A was incorporated in the constitution four years ago through 18th Amendment, which affirmed “the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.” Article 25-A gave some hope that the grim situation of education would improve. Pakistan is the second largest country with most out of school children, in the world. However, education in Pakistan remains dismal. The 18th Amendment also devolved education from federal to provincial governments and now provinces have power to formulate policies regarding education. Legislation for right to education has been passed in Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and Islamabad capital territory but KP has still not drafted the bill.

Despite all this there aren’t any signs of implementation of this very important Act at the provincial level. The Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 also guaranteed that all private schools would provide free education to 10 percent students. How will private schools ensure this and what will be the mechanism or criteria for enrollment of those 10 percent students especially in elite schools? It is neither clear nor happening?

All the provinces increased their education budget, but Pakistan continues to lag in education, both in terms of access and quality. The major issues include rampant corruption, administrative expenditures, lack of transparency, outdated curriculum and last but not the least lack of political will. The 18th Amendment has empowered the provincial governments to implement the ‘right to education’ but they need to be vigilant and see that it is done, as our future depends on it.

M. MUZZAMIL BASRAA,

Lahore, March 9.