NCRC holds consultation on free, compulsory education

Peshawar  -  In an effort to address the critical issues plaguing education access and quality in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC) organised a pivotal provincial consultation on Free & Compulsory Education.

A diverse array of stakeholders, including academia, social welfare advocates, media representatives, and political leaders, gathered to confront the challenges head-on. The consultation uncovered a myriad of pressing concerns, including the pervasive influence of economic challenges hindering children’s access to education. Moreover, the alarming dropout rates among girls, primarily driven by socio-cultural norms, demand immediate attention.

Urgent infrastructural enhancements are imperative, as evidenced by the dire state of many schools. Despite the constitutional mandate stipulating free and compulsory education for all children aged five to sixteen (Article 25A), a staggering reality persists: a mere fraction of the education budget is allocated to development plans, exacerbating the scarcity of higher secondary schools and perpetuating the challenge of inadequate school facilities, particularly in remote areas and newly merged districts.

A glaring gap in inclusive education was also highlighted, particularly concerning children with disabilities, including those affected by landmines in newly merged districts. Their needs have been consistently neglected, highlighting an urgent call for action to ensure their right to quality education.

Nadia Bibi, member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa NCRC, emphasised the constitutional obligation to provide free and compulsory education to all children, underscoring the urgency of addressing the current education crisis. Article 25A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan clearly states the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years. However, unfortunately, only 52.9% of children in Pakistan are in school, and out of these, only 4.5% of children complete secondary-level education, making it the lowest in Asia.

Moreover, Pakistan has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the world, as it is home to more than 26.2 million out-of-school children,” she said. 

The NCRC pledges to collaborate closely with stakeholders and work in collaboration with the new provincial government to devise an advocacy plan aimed at ensuring every child’s fundamental right to quality education. Together, let us strive to transform these challenges into opportunities, ensuring a brighter future for the youth of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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