HomeDomesticInclusive strategy required to increase students’ enrollment in KP

Inclusive strategy required to increase students’ enrollment in KP

PESHAWAR, Mar 10 (APP): The problem of bringing out of school children (OSC) under education net is persisting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) despite the fact that education to students aged 05-16 years were declared free under the Constitution of Pakistan since 2010.
The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) 2021 Report has disclosed that the number of OSC children had swelled to about 22.8 million in the country including 4.7 million children aged between 5 to 16 years in KP which was matter of great concerns for the newly provincial government after education was devolved to provinces under 18th constitutional amendment.
Alarmingly, about 2.9 million girls and one million OSC in merged tribal districts were still out of schools, BISP report said, adding 74.4 percent of girls and 38.5 percent boys are out of schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to poverty and socio-economic imbalances.
Besides 77 percent OSC reported in Palas Kolai, 70 percent in Upper Kohistan and 69 percent in Upper Kohistan, about 61 percent of such children in Torghar, 55pc in Shangla, 53 percent in Lakki Marwat and 51 percent each in Tank and Batagram districts.
In seven merged tribal districts of erstwhile Fata, about 66 percent of children are out-of-schools in North Waziristan, 63 percent in Bajaur, 61 percent in South Waziristan, 51 percent each in Mohmand and Khyber, and 47 percent each in Kurram and Orakazai.
PML-N KP spokesperson Ikhtair Wali Khan while terming BISP’s report as alarming said that it negates the tall claims of PTI leadership regarding an increase in children’s enrolment in schools and uniform education policy.
He said neither promises of uninformed education were fulfilled nor the dual education system was abolished in the province, adding the private schools continued sucking the blood of millions of people in KP with a roaring increase in tuition fee while PTI leadership has paid a deaf ear to it.
“Under Article 25-A of the Constitution, the education sector has been devolved to provinces and it was the responsibility of the provincial governments to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to metric level,’” said Syed Noman Bukhari, a senior lawyer and constitutional expert while talking to APP.
He said that poverty, socio economic imbalances, inadequate infrastructure and teachers’ absenteeism besides missing facilities like clean drinking water, boundary walls and toilets in public sector schools in KP has largely been attributed to increased student drop out ratio in the province.
Noman Advocate said that most small children in KP started attending school, but Free Compulsory Primary and Secondary Education Act, 2017 was not fully implemented in the province, resultantly many poor students were likely to leave their alma maters due to lack of financial resources with their parents.
Poor driver Mustafa Khan who left school due to poverty after death of his father due to blood cancer at Pabbi Nowshera said, “I had abandoned school at class V to support my poor ailing mother and meet the education’s expanses of my young brothers.”

Earning about Rs1000 per day from Chingchi Rickshwa, the young boy has a desire to continue education, however, the financial position was a hurdle for him to accomplish his dream.

Senior academician and former director elementary education, Professor Dr Muhammad Ibrahim said that the KP government needs to focus on provision of scholarship to poor students from primary level to combat illiteracy.

He said opening of schools websites with all relevant details, newsletters and starting video contents/blog posts would help increase students enrolments.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth million which can improve students enrollment in public sector schools.” He said the growth of government scholarship and home schools options besides increasing efforts by public schools systems and use of digital technology was imperative to bolster students’ enrollment in KP.

Shahab Khan, senior planning officer of the Education Department told APP that students’ enrollment drive has been started in the province and the target of bringing one million OSC children under schools net were set for all 37 districts of KP.

He said the unnecessary use of mobile phone has been banned in public sector schools aimed to reclaim students’ valuable time for academic pursuits. The students and staff were mandated to surrender their mobile devices to school administration upon arrival, prohibiting their presence within classrooms, he said.

“In case of emergencies, school heads would utilize landline phones to contact parents, while staff may only access their mobile phones during designated recess or free periods.”

Shahab said that a Rs3.7 billion project has been planned for education stipends to students of class 1-12 and Rs500 million for school bags and stationary in merged areas.

He said 200 alternate learning pathways centers would be opened for children aged 9-16 for OSC while Rs3 billion would be spent on converting two room schools to six rooms besides other necessary projects.

The construction of 100 new primary schools was proposed for the upcoming fiscal year while 150 middle schools to secondary schools in settled districts would be achieved. He said a Rs. one billion project was proposed for the establishment of an early childhood education program to be executed next fiscal year.

He said that more than 4000 teachers in primary, secondary and middle schools recruited and about Rs30 million invested to support 489 literacy centers besides disbursement of Rs three billion scholarships among students of the hitherto neglected tribal districts.

Similarly, more than Rs20 million have been spent on students reading in madrasas in four-year , while free textbooks and bags have been provided to more than 600,000 students in tribal districts besides over Rs 20 million for digital skills of students in 2018-22.

APP/fam/taj

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