A consultation session titled Demoratization of Education in Pakistan was organized by Ibtidah for Education on 15th of July,2023 in Rawalpindi. The participants included Educational Policy experts, Academicians, Civil Society representatves, Social, Human Rights & Political Activists.
Ms. Zeeba Hashmi founder of Ibtidah for Education briefly explained the aims and objectives of the organization. She further elaborated the need to understand the role of education in the process of democratization of the society which is usually underestimated in Pakistan. The purpose of this consultation is to identify barriers and to find ways to remove these barriers in order to facilitate the process of effective policy making.
Kashif Aslam, a Researcher and Analyst and core team member of Ibtidah for Education stressed on the importance of analysis of existing curricula, especially in the context of human rights, minority rights and gender rights. Education policy making is still a federal issue even after passing of 18th amendment which devolved policy related issues to provincial level. There is a need to check harmful effects of centralization in educational policy making and planning. The role of local cultures and languages can be further explored in this context. Accountability and Transparency also plays a vital role in the process.
Dr Bashir H. Shah, Psychologist, Human Rights & Political Activist as well as the member of core team of Ibtidah for Education narrated that democracy is not just about conducting elections and formation of governments, it is very much related to democratic values, attitudes and behaviors which can only be inculcated through the educational process.
Iram Mumtaz is a Remedial Therapist working for the children with special needs / Dyslexia. She shared her experiences of her advocacy campaign for a law related to children with dyslexia since October,2023. The law is going to be implemented from August,2023. She criticized the role of bureaucracy in the education department which is hardly supportive of such initiatives.
Islam Wazir, a Researcher and Policy Adviser who worked with the government as an advisor indicated some key problems in dealing with policy issues in the area of education. He mentioned that Madrassa education claim a large share in education, e specially in former FATA where no government body has any regularity control. This, according to him, is the reason why extremist narratives in education find a strong base. A lot needs to be done in this context.
Isthtiaq Gillani, a child rights activist emphasized on the role of civil society in giving equal educational rights to the marginalized and vulnerable communities. He stressed on the need activate RTE laws at provincial levels so that this fundamental right becomes operationalized.
Dr Aasim Sajjad, an academic and political activist mentioned exclusion of marginalized communities from political process which is in itself a human rights violation. Commodification of education is a big factor in depriving a large chunk of population from their educational rights.
Journalist Imrana Komal indicated that mainstream journalism always ignores issues related to education and democratization.
Waiza Rafiq, A Human Rights Lawyer highlighted the importance of constitutionalism and effective policy making to address the issues of democratization of education in Pakistan.
Muhammad Durrani, Government Official in Special Education Department stressed on the need for a holistic policy for education and policy makers must include all stake holders in the process.
Mr. Mukhtar, a Researcher and Policy Maker indicated that a systematic and continuous effort is required to improve policy making exercise in the democratization of education process.
Abdullah Haroon elaborated on the problems of educators at all levels, he demanded that rights of the teachers must be protected.
Amjad Nazeer, a Researcher & Advocacy Expert suggested devising a way forward and recommended that: 1-Education for all or compulsory primary education 2- promotion of Rational Education for all 3- Devolution of power with regard to decision making for education so that marginalized cultural communities or linguistic groups can be included in the process.4- Educational Budget must be 6% of the total GDP.
Dr. A.H Nayyar, Academic, Researcher who were presiding the session concluded that legislation only cannot ensure the right of equal and quality education for all, we need to devise strategies for the implementation of law. Democratization of education process requires taking in to consideration the position of stakeholders also
The major points from the consultation that are worth mentioning for democratization processes for education are:
- Since the inclusion of article 25-A in the constitution of Pakistan, federal and provincial governments are unable to form the rules and bussiness of the aricle. That is why the state is lacking with the implementation of the free and compulsory education right in the country.
- Appointment of right or appropriate person on the ministry of education, CSOs never witness any deliberate efforts for the education in system.
- Democratization in education can only be possible in a fuctional democracy and Pakistan is a fragile and unstable democratic country.
- Important and main article 37-B is neglected as it is not coming under or in the chapter of the fundamental rights.
- 44% children of FATA have not been enroled even after the merger in the province.
- We should advocate for the 1990s decision of 6% education budget every year.