UNITED FOR THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION

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Learning Culture Emphasized Amidst Pandemic Crisis

One of the major industries which has been drastically hit by the pandemic is the education sector. It has been stated that more than 1 million Pakistani children will be dropping out of schools unless public investment in the educational sector is made into a priority.

According to the recent statements from Pakistan Youth Change Advocates (PYCA), Pakistan no longer has the luxury to focus on bringing the colossal pre-pandemic figure of 22.8 million out-of-school children into schools but must now actively strategize to prevent a roll-back on important gains made vis-à-vis education, especially girls’ access to education in the last decade.

They made these revelations while launching the #InvestInEducationStrengthenPakistan campaign. It was learned that this kind of inaction will result in millions of Pakistani children dropping out of schools.

Education activists, influencers and media personalities from around the country gathered for this virtual event. The virtual consultation was aimed at garnering the support of key influencers from all walks of life to ensure that education and the future of over 80 million Pakistani children does not take a backseat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the influential joining the platform was Influencer and Media Personality George Fulton, who pointed at the need to redefine education in terms of the many issues and concerns that have a greater buy-in both among the masses and the political elite.  He said: “Elaborating on the key linkages that education has with climate change, livelihoods or security can go a long way in ensuring that more people appreciate the importance of greater investment in education.”

As it turns out, cuts in education budgets and more specifically within the education development expenditure are a routine practice and have little to do with the fall-out of emergency situations such as the on-going pandemic.

Asim Bashir Khan, an economist and Public Financial Management expert also reflected on the campaign and findings, stating: “The most recent budget (fiscal year 2020-21), seems to be a continuation of past trends rather than a result of the fall-out of the COVID-19 emergency. Except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the non-development expenditures, as usual saw an increase in all the provinces and at the federal level. In the same realm, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was unparalleled in terms of its planned increase in the education development portfolio, which it enhanced by 46.2 per cent Sindh and the federal government introduced meager increases of 7.7 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. Balochistan and Punjab, on the other hand, budgeted huge cuts worth of 23.9 per cent and 16.3 per cent respectively.”

However, these statistics aren’t quite justified as the government has been claiming that a V-shaped recovery is in its practicality and economic recovery has been on a stable rise, allowing the government to ensure funds are committed to the educational sector. Yet when it comes to prioritizing the development of this impertinent industry and affirming that the future of education and children’s educational rights are secured, there is still much more to be done on the grassroot level, to ensure schools become the best, true places of learning for our children, allowing their progress and growth towards the betterment of this nation is realized. 

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