Declaration of an Educational Emergency

Author: Tayyaba batul

The Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan verbally announced the declaration of an Education Emergency on May 8th, 2024, during a large gathering held at the PM Secretariat. This announcement comes at a crucial time when global academia is undergoing significant transformation. Unfortunately, none of the Provincial Education Ministers attended this important ceremony where the initiative was launched by the Prime Minister, Mr. Shehbaz Sharif. No doubt the Federal Government, in close collaboration with the provincial governments, their chief ministers, and secretaries, supported by relevant professionals and educationists, can develop a comprehensive strategy and work plan. This plan should include immediate, mid-term, and long-term goals, allocate necessary resources—financial, human, and technical—and establish a strong supervisory body headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

But today, its been more than two weeks, I visited the website of the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training along with the provincial ministries’ websites. No document is available on the strategy or plan of action for enforcing this Education Emergency to achieve the goal of bringing 26 million out-of-school children into schools. As a real classroom practitioner me and many expert educators, educational leaders from all over the country know very well that the educational emergency must focus on “Education for all, education by all,” by involving all sectors and sub sectors of academia, i.e., formal, non-formal, and functional education, etc.

The government has no shortage of experts to prepare plans, strategies, and comprehensive proposals for the effective implementation of the education emergency. However, when exactly will these plans be executed? Will the politicians agree to divert funds from their developmental schemes to spend on education? Or do they just seek short-term gains to impress their voters? These appear to be empty words and mere verbal promises.
Historically, our political landscape has been filled with slogans and promises like “Nizam-e-Mustafa,” “Roti, Kapra, Aur Makan,” “Qarz Utaro, Mulk Sanwaro,” and many more. For the entire tenure of this government, every speech, meeting, and activity will likely revolve around the so-called emergency. The fact of the matter is that in my country, politics is just another profession. Politicians can lie, cheat, steal, and do much more to gain public attention or applause, and still be respected to the point of worship.

Now the question arises: has the matter ended after the speeches in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat? The most important query is about the allocation of resources specifically for achieving the targets of the educational emergency. Without a strategy, resource allocation, and adequate arrangements, it will be an exercise in futility.
Earlier, the Prime Minister announced an additional allocation equivalent to 0.5% of GDP to the education sector every year for the next four years, aiming to achieve a 4% budget for education. However, this was also just a verbal announcement, with no directive issued by the PM to back up this promise. Let’s see how much the education budget increases in June 2024, and what happens next.

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