In light of International Literacy Day, Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar on Monday stated that knowledge illuminates the intellectual ken of human beings and provides vision and insight to people.
In his message, the CM stated that humans cannot progress without education and that nations of the world have achieved new heights of development and progress because of their education systems.
He said the PTI government is providing a bright future to the children of Pakistan by promoting quality education, and the Punjab government has adopted a composite policy to develop the education sector on modern lines that could also fulfill the need of the time.
These steps will prove to be a good omen for the promotion of quality education and development of the education sector, he continued. The CM reiterated that achieving a 100 percent literacy rate is the strong commitment of the government which will be achieved at any cost.
“Primary education will be imparted in Urdu and every child will be provided equal learning opportunities by the provincial government,” he added. “The government is fully focusing to improve the standard of education and line departments should also play their active role in enhancing the literacy rate in the country,” the CM maintained.
Teaching and learning during COVID-19
The theme for literacy day in 2020 is “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond”. It highlights the role of educators and changing pedagogies. The theme highlights literacy learning in a lifelong learning perspective, and therefore, mainly focuses on youth and adults.
Pakistan has slowly, but gradually, made improvements in its academic structure. COVID-19, however, disrupted the momentum and exposed the gap between technology and learning in Pakistan. The pandemic has flipped the paradigm as all educational institutions have been put in lockdown; the re-opening of schools from 15 September should better the situation.
Why is International Literacy Day celebrated?
International Literacy Day is celebrated on Sept 8 every year to divert human attention towards the awareness of their rights with regard to social and human development. This year, especially with remote learning – basic literary skills have become more important than ever. It is a necessary tool to eradicate poverty, lowering child mortality, controlling population growth, attaining gender equality, etc.
The day is celebrated to encourage the people towards getting continuous education and understanding their responsibility in institutions such as family, civil society, and good governance.
UNESCO continues to play a leading role in improving global literacy and promoting International Literacy Day with governments, communities, etc. Through themes each year, and several programs, it aims to highlight the role of literacy and skills development in the context of a changing world.
State obliged to provide free, compulsory education
Article 25-A of the Pakistan constitution obliges the state to provide ‘free’ and ‘compulsory’ education to all children aged between five and 16 years.
The apparent failure of the state to provide quality education has caught the attention of the Supreme Court many times and the same has asked the federal and provincial governments to produce complete data and information regarding the fulfilment of the obligation under Article 25-A of the Constitution.
A Supreme Court bench in 2019 had taken up a set of cases relating to education and fee increase by private educational institutions. Earlier, the Supreme Court in its December 13, 2018 decision had ordered private schools to slash fees in excess of Rs 5,000 by 20 percent.
The apex court had also highlighted the need of developing a mechanism to counter resistance on the part of private schools to undermine regulatory steps explaining that such resistance shown by the private schools include reduction of facilities in schools, increase in number of students in classes, reduction of teaching staff, reduction in their salaries and other related matters.
There is no doubt that the public education system has diminshed in the country and, if the current debate regarding private education is not channelized in a healthy direction, so will the private education system.