ISLAMABAD: With Pakistan having the second-highest population of children out of school, the federal government has launched a month-long enrollment campaign to address the emergency-like situation.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal formally kicked off on Friday the National Primary Enrollment Campaign (NPEC) in the Narowal district of Punjab – his political constituency – with the slogan of ‘Chalo School’ (let’s go to school).
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will also go to a school next week to enroll children to take ownership of the nationwide drive. Currently, over 24 million children are out of school in Pakistan. The government has claimed it brought down the figure by one million over the last year.
The target of NPEC is to enroll 25-40% more children than enrolled last year but the position will be clear after one month, Iqbal said. He said children aged between five to nine years will be enrolled under this campaign.
The minister added that all provincial governments will take special steps to enroll children in schools during April.
Alif Ailaan Campaign Director Mosharraf Zaidi called NPEC a good step. However, he said the big challenge would be ensuring those children enrolled under the campaign remain in school.
Although education has been devolved to provinces with the 18th amendment, under article 25A of the constitution, the federal government cannot be absolved of its responsibility.
The planning minister stressed that every child has to be educated to make Pakistan sovereign and developed in real terms.” Unfortunately, Pakistan is among the countries having the highest number of out of school children. This National Primary Enrollment Campaign will help drastically reduce that number,” Iqbal said.
The drive will be patronised at the highest level, including the prime minister, chief ministers, senators, MNAs, and MPAs. All public representatives, along with district education officers will visit their electorate, and get one child enrolled. Similarly, the private sector will also be involved. Students of the elite school systems will contribute one gift pack for each newly enrolled student.