PM Speech at Education Conference

March 29, 2014

Rt. Honourable Mr. Gordon Brown, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Education,

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar

 

Gov Punjab Ch Sarwar

 

MOS Education Mr. Baligh-ur-Rehman

Gov KP Engineer Shaukatullah

Federal and Provincial Ministers

Member’s Parliament

 Assalam-o-Alaikum and Good Morning!

 I am delighted and feel honored to inaugurate the Conference “Unfinished Agenda in Education: the Way Forward” and welcome all of you, who have gathered here for this noble cause.

 The holding of this important event would not have been possible without the strong commitment, personal interest and dedicated efforts by Rt. Honourable Mr. Gordon Brown who is also present amongst us today.

 It was during our meeting in New York last year, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly when Mr. Gordon Brown and I agreed to hold an International Conference on Education in Pakistan.

 I would like to convey my deepest appreciation and sincere thanks to Mr. Gordon Brown and his team for making it possible for us, to gather here today to deliberate upon a subject, which is of the highest priority for us all.

The presence of the distinguished delegates from the UN agencies, international donors, NGOs, representatives from the private sector, educationists, business leaders and our development partners is indeed reassuring for us. I thank you all for your support and cooperation.

 It is my hope that this historic conference, while bringing together all the stakeholders under the same roof, would serve as a catalyst in accelerating the pace of progress in the field of education in Pakistan.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, democracy is gaining a strong hold in Pakistan. But democracy is not just about casting and counting votes; it, in fact, is a culture, a culture of dialogue, a culture of understanding, of tolerating divergent view points and a culture of respecting each other.

The smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another is the start, but the actual fruits of democracy have yet to reach the electorate. We want to strengthen democratic norms, to be able to tolerate differing opinions and to understand that everyone has the right to express his views. And it would only be possible through education. I dream of a Pakistan where every citizen gets educated in the real sense and thereby contributes to the development of the country.

 Pakistan’s constitution is based on Islamic principles, and acquiring education is our religious obligation. Islam guides every man and woman to get enlightened. Such is the importance of education that our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) decided to free those prisoners who would teach the Muslims how to read and write. 

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I believe that Education is not an expense but an investment into the future.  Rather, it is the best investment an individual, parent or nation can make.

 Our objective is to develop an educational system that is compatible with the requirements of a knowledge based economy. Science and technology are engines of growth in modern economies and they must be an integral part of our education system. This includes vocational training and education in modern skills, like Information Technology.

 I feel that our education policy must prioritize female education in order to close the gender gap. We also need to ensure effective participation of women in the decision making process and to protect their respect and dignity.

In Pakistan, Women are already playing a prominent role in education as teachers, as talented students, and in other various other capacities in different fields of life.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

For Pakistan, education is not merely a matter of priority, but, it is the future of Pakistan, which lies in its educated Youth.

It has, in fact, become a national emergency.  More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalization. Without education, this resource can turn into a burden.

 As a country progressing on path of development, Pakistan needs skilled, highly educated and motivated youth to compete in the present global environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We strongly feel that knowledge should become the key driver of socio-economic development in Pakistan in the 21st century.

Education is a key component of the government’s comprehensive framework for social change. Our primary concerns in education are low budgetary allocations towards education, a very high number of out of school children, high drop-out rates, gender disparity, low literacy rate and realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) targets.

 Education is a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment, but, regardless of this, there is a national consensus on the need for reform and modernization of the country’s educational system to bring it at par with the national priorities and international standards. All provincial governments have joined hands with the Federal Government to identify key challenges and determine the way forward.

 The Federal Ministry of Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education has recently launched a National Plan of Action in collaboration with the Provincial governments, which provides a framework for accelerated progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

 The government also plans to launch a Literacy Movement in the country, along with a package of incentives, to ensure that every child of school going age is enrolled in school.

 I have asked the Planning Commission to give education top priority in our prospective plan known as Vision 2025.

 Our effort is to achieve the targets set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years. A key target set by UNESCO is to increase resources for the education sector to reach 4% of GDP by the year 2018.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

The private sector too, is playing an increasingly important role in the field of education. Out of the 14.4 million primary stage enrolments, 4.8 million i.e. 34% are enrolled in private sector schools. Private sector share is much higher at the lower middle and secondary levels.

 Of equal importance is the laudable role of the UN agencies, led by UNESCO, NGOs and civil society organizations, social organizations, philanthropists, religious institutions, delivery agents, and donors’ community in general who are sharing a significant portion of funding education in Pakistan. 

 I invite you all to join us in our mission to educate and train our youth. I have no doubt that they can turn around all our challenges into opportunities. They also have the potential to contribute immensely and positively to world peace and prosperity.

 Let us join our hands together to making this country a modern welfare state, where every citizen has access to equal opportunities and where everyone has the right to live in peace and dignity, without any discrimination on the basis of colour, creed or gender.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

I once again thank Mr. Gordon Brown, his team, and all of you for sparing time for this valuable interaction in an effort to help Pakistan devise and implement its short and long term strategies, in the field of education.

 This timely Conference provides us with a unique opportunity to develop effective coordination mechanisms to generate powerful synergies for accelerated progress in achieving our targets, including the MDGs.

 I also congratulate the Ministry of Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education for coordinating and hosting this important event.

 I assure you that the federal and provincial governments will extend to you their fullest cooperation in this regard and wish you success in your deliberations.

 I thank you