Federal, provincial govts agree to develop National Action Plan for out-of-school childrenBreaking

May 18, 2023

To address the issue of out-of-school children in Pakistan and maximize the enrollment of school-age children across the country, the Planning Ministry, the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, and all provincial governments have agreed to prepare a National Action Plan. The decision was made in a high-level consultative meeting addressing on the crisis under their chairmanship of Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Over the years, Pakistan has made considerable progress in providing access to education to its school age population. However, the pace of improvement has been slow compared to other developing countries.

With an estimated 22.8 million children aged five to 16 years out of school, Pakistan has one of the highest number of such children in the world. The upcoming PSDP 2023-2024 will also institutionalize several key initiatives to achieve universal education in Pakistan. A model Universal Enrollment Pilot Project in Islamabad will attempt to ensure that there are no out-of-school children. After piloting this in Islamabad, the learning may be replicated to produce similar results in other areas across the country. The Planning Ministry will also identify Pakistan’s districts with the highest concentrations of out-of-school children.

Furthermore, a National Out of School Children Fund will be created to provide performance-based cash grants to provincial governments for improving education outcomes in the most affected districts. Additionally, to reduce dropout rates, especially for girls who face mobility issues, the government will launch a comprehensive virtual schooling system. Earlier, the provincial representatives briefed about the situation overview of out-of-school children in their respective provinces and shared their approaches to ensure maximum enrollment in the province.

The planning minister also directed the Federal Directorate of Education to establish a birth certificate-based admission system in collaboration with NADRA. As soon as a child reaches school-going age, he/she should be enrolled in a nearby school by the state. The minister also highlighted the importance of adult literacy and directed to set up programs to facilitate adult literacy. Planning Commission Member (Social Sector & Devolution) Rafiullah Kakar also highlighted the importance of data-driven need assessment for all projects targeting out-of-school children. Kakar said the Planning Commission is also developing a national Education Index to monitor progress on education outcomes and encourage healthy competition among provinces.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan-INP