The Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Federal Education, and all provincial governments have committed to developing a national action plan to address the issue of out-of-school children (OOSC) in Pakistan and increase school-age child enrollment across the country.
According to a statement issued by the planning ministry on Wednesday, the decision was made at a high-level consultative meeting on Pakistan’s OOSC crisis, which was chaired by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal.
Among those present were the additional secretary of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, provincial education secretaries, the director general of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, and a member of the Social Sector and Development Planning Commission.
In this regard, Planning Minister Iqbal authorized the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to collaborate with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to build a birth certificate-based admission system.
The state should enroll a child in a neighboring school as soon as they become school-going age, according to the system.
Furthermore, the announcement stated that a model Universal Enrollment Pilot Project in Islamabad Capital Territories (ICT) will aim to eliminate OOSCs in the federal capital.
“The lessons learned from piloting this in Islamabad may be replicated to produce similar results in other areas across the country.” The Planning Ministry will also identify the districts in Pakistan with the largest prevalence of OOSC,” it continued.
Furthermore, a national out-of-school children fund will be established to offer province governments performance-based financial awards to improve education outcomes in the most afflicted districts.
In addition, the government will create a comprehensive virtual schooling system to cut dropout rates, particularly among girls who experience mobility challenges, according to the communiqué.
Previously, provincial delegates were briefed on the OOSC situation in their respective provinces and highlighted their ways to ensuring maximum enrolment in the provinces.
The planning minister also emphasised the need for adult literacy and directed the establishment of adult literacy courses.
Pakistan has made significant progress in delivering education to its school-age population over the years.
However, progress has been modest in comparison to other emerging countries. Pakistan has one of the highest rates of OOSCs in the world, with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 years out of school.