ISLAMABAD: Providing free and quality education to children is the state’s constitutional responsibility of the state; however, all past governments in Pakistan have ignored the sector which is why the private sector came forward to play its part for the uplift of education in the country.
These views were expressed by educationists accompanied with, lawyers, members of the civil society at an event titled ‘Our Educational Needs’ organised by Islamabad Educational Forum here on Sunday.
Speakers suggested that the government should ensure that children are equipped with an education that could enable them to face the modern days’ challenges.
They were unanimous on the point that the schools should ensure quality education so as they did not require evening tutoring and tuition, adding that educational institutions should provide opportunities for both mental and physical growth.
Former president of Islamabad District Bar Association Riasat Ali Azad said under the article 25-A of the constitution its right of every child to get a free education but, he added, the clause seems abiding as 25 million children still remained without getting an education.
“Other than out of school children, an enormous number of the children are getting an education in private sector” he recalled, adding that “Parents choose private educational institution for their children just to seek best quality education which they nowhere found in the government schools”.
An educationist Dr Akbar Yazdani said on the private and public sector schools work across the world. However, they both provide similar standard and quality of education, he explained and said that the scenario in our country is much different as our people preferred education in private sector institutions deeming that government institutions could not offer the excellent standard of education they required for their children.
“It was the private education sector which played a pivotal role in increasing the literacy level of the country”, he said recalling that as per official figures, the government of Sindh has spent Rs 1000 billion on education in five years while it could not make a significant change in ever increasing in literacy ratio in the province.
He claimed that an estimated 35 million children are getting an education in private sector educational instructions which a big question on the government.
While discussing on the supreme court directives for 20 percent reduction in tuition fee of all such private schools who are charging more than Rs 5000 month, a representative of a private schools said that they are paying taxes to the government while the fee is the only source of their income, arguing that to meet all kind of their expenses, as they provide quality education, small classes and air-conditioned classrooms would be difficult in less fees.
He said that the government treats schools like any other business. “If they want to provide relive to parents they should improve the quality of their own schools, or pass some benefit on to private schools which can be transferred to parents”, he suggested. He claimed that around 55 per cent of tuition fee income in private schools goes into staff salaries.
A teacher Muhammad Abu Zar who was an engineer by profession but turned to a teacher by choice recalled that teachers remained as marginalized for long time but mushroom growth of private schools increased the competition within this profession and ultimately the organizations compelled to better pay to the teachers than past.
A single mother of one daughter Nida Maqsood who is also a teacher said that she willingly selected a private school for her daughter because she was required a psychiatric as well along with school teacher.
A representative of a teachers’ association said that the presence of the regulatory bodies is necessary but the government also should make some certain sort of policies under which the parents, who are preferring enrollment of their children in elite schools, could be kept check that either they are taxpayers or not, adding that non-tax payers should be liable under that policy.