JHELUM: The upcoming elections helped rope in political leaders to support the cause of education in the Jhelum district.
Almost all of the prominent political leaders, representing their respective parties and communities, vowed to help improve the state of government schools in the district.
Several politicians from various political parties gathered on Saturday at a convention to discuss the falling state of public education in Jhelum.
The conference analysed five-year education plans of contesting candidates and discussed doable solutions to ensure quality education across the government-run schools.
The convention was organised by Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) and Chaj Taleem and attended by parents, youth activists and civil society members of Jhelum.
The event was attended by candidates from all major political parties including Nadeem Khadim (PML-N), Tasneem Nasir (PPP), Bilal Azhar Kiani (independent), Shahid Kamal (APML), Chaudhary Zafar Iqbal (PTI), Saeeda Mehnaz (APML), Kashif Islam (PPP) and, first transgender candidate Lubna Lal from PTI-G. Fawad Hussain Chaudhary of PTI was represented by Raza Chaudhary at the event.
The speakers said that slow and ineffective utilisation of education budget was also an important factor contributing to failing standards of education in Jhelum.
The conference noted that 64 per cent of the schools in the district are at primary level. There are not enough government secondary schools to accommodate students completing primary education. Therefore there was a high dropout rate at middle-school level.
Moreover, speakers at the convention pointed out that several existing government schools in Jhelum have dilapidated buildings or broken structures forcing the teachers to hold classes in the open.
In extreme hot weather they take classes under shady trees and during winters in sunny spots.
Discussing the plight of the government schools, the speakers said that only 12 per cent high schools have science labs.
Both budget allocations and utilisation need to be strengthened for the improvement of education in Jhelum.
Towards the conclusion, all contesting candidates signed on a charter of demands for the constitutional provision of quality education for children of Jhelum, and promised to deliver on the charter if elected during upcoming elections. The charter is backed by a host of organisations, parents and community members in Jhelum.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2018.
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