Islamabad A policy dialogue on ‘Right to Education’ was organised here to highlight the importance of the education sector for a better future of the country.

Jointly organised by I-SAPS (Islamabad chapter) and Oxfam GB the policy dialogue provided a ripe opportunity to the participants to share their skills and experiences.

Speaking on the occasion Ch. Javaid Ahmad, Chairman of Standing Committee on Education in Punjab Assembly, assured the participants that the elected members would put in their best efforts to promote education sector in the country. He said I-SAPS has certainly drawn attention of the government and the elected members towards important constitutional responsibility of imparting compulsory education to all children in Punjab.

The participants of the dialogue opined that the event helped sensitise the stakeholders like public representatives, civil society organizations, relevant government departments and independent researchers towards the enormous challenges posed by the Article 25A of the constitution.

Dr. Salman Humayun, executive director of I-SAPS, presented an insightful analysis of the cost implications of Article 25A. He said that with an annual population growth rate of 1.4 percent, Punjab would have 19.32 million children waiting for admission in the public sector schools by the next 15 years.

“The provincial education budget will have to be raised to Rs337 billion from the present Rs152 billion to meet the present challenges. The Punjab government has improved upon the under-spending of education budget but still a lot needs to be done to improve the absorption capacity,” he said.

Ahmad Ali, Research Fellow I-SAPS, highlighted the legal and administrative implications of implementing Article 25A. “Free education is yet to find a proper definition in our context as to whether it would apply to just school fee or text books or uniform and other expenses would also be covered by the state,” he said.

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