Tuesday, April 20, 2004

President Affirms Commitment To Education For All Children

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan : April 20 (PNS) - Pakistan launched a countrywide campaign to sensitize the nation on achieving the goal of primary education for all children with President General Pervez Musharraf pledging a firm commitment to realizing the Education for All Plan.

Addressing a function that marked the start of a weeklong campaign (April 19 to 25), the President said the Government attaches a top priority to improving the quality of education for the younger generation. "We are striving to ensure education for all Pakistani children as it is the younger generation that would take Pakistan forward on the path of development-we are defining a direction for them and showing the light-but it is the younger lot who will take country forward".

The campaign focuses on creating mass awareness about the importance of Education for All (EFA) by involving highest policy makers, provincial chief ministers and district nazims in the process. Out of 20 million Pakistani children aged less than 10 years, about five million are not attending schools. The remaining 15 million are receiving education in public and private institutions.

Children from rural areas, who are not attending formal institutions and students from urban public and private schools as well as students from Madrassas attended the function. Federal Education Minister Zobaida Jalal, secretary Education,planners of Education for All national plan of action attended the function. As a follow-up to Dakar World Education Forum held in April 2000, Pakistan evolved a National Plan of Action on Education for All (2001-2015).

The plan, inter alia, envisages to reach the disadvantaged in rural and urban areas with emphasis on out-of-school and illiterate girls. It also encourages community participation and ownership of basic education programmes at the grassroots level. The President informed the students that Government wants to raise the standard of education across the country by introducing a common curriculum.

"We want to ensure uniform quality of education for all students as well believe that the future of the country is linked with the performance of younger generation-and higher the quality of human resource, greater the power of our country". He said the Government is also making efforts to bring madrassas into the mainstream education system by introducing formal education. Continuing, the President said,t he students of Madrassas would have access to more economic opportunities when they study science and other modern subjects in addition to religious education.

In this respect, the President also referred to the programme being pursued by the Punjab Government in motivating Madrassas to introduce science subjects and said the students of religious institutions, doing so, would be provided books free of cost To the students he advised that they should concentrate on developing all-round personality. "You should adhere to the moral values of honesty, truthfulness and observance of merit in all spheres of life at the same time you should not lose sight of staying physically fit".

On the occasion, students representatives of public, private and religious institutions, also spoke on the importance of ensuring education for all Pakistani children, specially the under-privileged. The students candidly exchanged views with the President on various educational issues including provision of sports facilities, training of teachers etc. On suggestion from a student that the country's leadership including the President should visit schools to have first hand information about the state of education being imparted, President Musharraf agreed to the idea.

Amid rousing welcome, the President said he would certainly visit some schools. The President also promised to look into increasing job opportunities for special persons. He was informed that the Federal Public Service Commission has recently allowed visually impaired students to take FPSC examination for getting jobs. Appreciating both the content and quality of speeches by the students, the President announced cash awards for speakers, and students who recited verses of the Holy Qur'an and Allama Iqbal's famous prayer for children.

The End.

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