Policymakers brainstorm ways to improve women’s education

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Pakistan Girls Education Initiative (PGEI), working under United Nations Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), gathered parliamentarians, policymakers and volunteers for the spread of education at the Pearl Continental Hotel on Tuesday to discuss the initiatives taken for women’s education by the Punjab government.

More than 20 members of the Punjab Assembly joined the seminar, which raised questions on recent initiatives taken by the Punjab government. The second meeting on “Parliamentarian Caucus on Education” focused on education for women and girls on primary, junior and secondary levels. The seminar focused on the recent developments through statistics and figures that PGEI has brought to Punjab and other areas of Pakistan, which stressed the spread of education through a properly managed system, where ministry of education and UNGEI would collaborate.

The session was opened by MPA Ayesha Javeed, who shed light on restriction of women to gain education in feudal areas. She compared national and international standards and policies on women and said, “Restriction is not due to religion and customs; people in many areas promote equal participation of girls in education but due to lack of facilities they are unable to do anything.”

UNICEF Chief Education Bartholomeus Vrolijk brought all the parliamentarians on a same level of understanding through a presentation showing background of UNGEI and PGEI, in the light of completing 100 years of women’s struggle for education. He said, “We need to plan and work hard on sustaining education in flood affected areas, although we need to understand the need in other areas too as only 2 percent of the budget is allotted for education.” Special girl guides sang a national song to spread a spirit of nationalism among the policymakers. Girl Guide Association of Pakistan National Commissioner Farhana Azeem showed a presentation on girl guides.

Punjab School Education Department Deputy Secretary Qaiser Rashid said, “We would not end the existing federal education policies; those favouring the system would be welcomed. We need more budget to provide facilities to public schools. Initiative of Daanish School is out of the education budget of 14 billion rupees. I personally do not favour the expenses laid there.”

Education Standing Committee Chairperson MPA Javed Chaudry said, “We aim to have a similar curriculum in public sector as private sector do, and we know that there are a lot of problems in education department but a continuous focus on what is lacking would not do us any good; we need to work together to promote the gap of women’s education that has been marked with greater damages of floods and earthquakes that we have witnessed over the years.” UNGEI Co-chairperson Dr Nafisa Shah said, “We need to realize that Osama bin Laden is not our most important issue. Education is more important.”