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EDUCATION

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Consultation with Parlimentarians - EDUCATION FOR ALL IN PAKISTAN

Parliamentarians can play a key role in the formulation and enforcement of policies and reforms for socio-economic development in a society. UNESCO has been working with the parliamentarians at national and international levels, to mobilize their support for the achievement of Education For All goals. On 29 January 2009, UNESCO Islamabad, in collaboration with PILDAT, organized a Consultation with the Parliamentarians on EFA. This consultation was a follow up to the pledges made by the leaders of 17 major political parties of Pakistan in an All Parties Conference (APC) on 5 February 2008 in Islamabad, by signing Joint Declaration on Education For All. Objective of this Consultation was to provide orientation to the legislators about the challenges and issues of basic education and literacy in the country, and seek their support for increased attention and priority to the achievement of EFA goals by 2015. Federal Education Minister, 3 provincial Ministers of Education, and 25 members of National Assembly and Senate attended this meeting. PILDAT Executive Director, Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob welcomed the parliamentarians and explained background and objectives of the consultation. UNESCO Country Representative, Dr. Maurice Robson, made a detailed presentation on the concept and history of Education For All, status of EFA indicators in Pakistan, and what needs to be done by the government and parliamentarians to improve the situation.

Provincial Education Ministers in their remarks highlighted initiatives of basic education and literacy launched by their respective governments, identified hindrances faced, and supported the need of increasing resources for the education sector. The Federal Education Minister, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, in his key note address reaffirmed commitment of the Govt. of Pakistan for achievement of Education For All goals, including enhancement of education budget up to 4% of GDP within next 3 years. Members of the parliament actively participated in the discussion during this session and underlined the need of bringing all out of school children into primary schools, provision of basic education opportunities to adult illiterates and out of school youth, particularly educational facilities for girls and women. This consultation exposed the parliamentarians and provincial Ministers to a holistic picture of educational issues in Pakistan, and sensitized them about the possible actions which can help Pakistan to improve its educational scene. This Consultation provided UNESCO and other international organizations an opportunity to advocate provision of free basic education as a right, and the responsibility of the state towards education of its masses.

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