SHC seeks govt comments on plea against flawed education system

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday sought comments from the provincial chief secretary, secretary education and others on a petition filed by the civil rights campaigners against ‘dual standard’ of education in the province and seeking constitution of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the matter impartially.

A division bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, was hearing a joint petition of Fixit’s Muhammad Alamgir Khan and Justice Helpline’s patron Atam Parkash, who had taken the provincial authorities to the court for not implementing the Sindh Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013 in its true letter and spirit.

The bench issued notices to all the respondents— the chief secretary, education secretary, member education sector planning & development board and secretary finance— and the provincial law officer, directing them to submit their respective replies by January 12.

Earlier, the civil rights campaigners petitioned the SHC and submitted that the provincial assembly had passed the Sindh Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2013 in February 2013 with the aim to provide free of cost education to every child.  “The clause 3.(1) of the above said Act clearly mentions that every child of the age of five to sixteen years, regardless to sex and race, shall have a fundamental right to free and compulsory education in a school, they added.

They said that in the Sindh province, there were not enough middle and high schools to meet the challenge of providing necessary education to the children. The petitioners said that according to a survey report, around 6,000 government schools were not functioning.

The petitioners further submitted that according to a survey conducted by the Sindh Education Department, 77 percent schools were in unsatisfactory conditions, and almost 50 percent do not have basic facilities of safe drinking water and ambulation.

“The Sindh government claims to promote education in the province under the ‘education emergency’ but it just remains to be a mere claim, and in fact, no betterment has been observed in the education sector and the condition has gone from bad to worse,” the petitioners maintained.

They prayed to the court to order the constitution of JIT consisting of members from all investigation authorities including Pakistan Army, and direct them to investigate the matter impartially and honestly. The court was further requested to pass appropriate orders in the light of JIT findings for the betterment of education sector in the province.