55 per cent children aged between 5-16 are currently out of school in Sindh. The supreme land of the law, the Constitution of Pakistan, enshrines the right to free and compulsory education for children as a fundamental right under Article 25-A. The Sindh Government has failed to ensure the implementation of this basic human right and has invariably, failed the children of it’s province. To hold the government accountable to it’s unmet responsibility and bring to light the sheer violation of this constitutional right, the Public Interest Law Association Pakistan (PILAP) filed a public interest constitutional petition before the Sindh High Court on 3rd of March, 2016, through Advocate Supreme Court Muhammad Najeeb Jamali.
In the petition, PILAP has requested the Honourable Court to direct the Sindh Government to provide sufficient funding, implement the public-private partnership model suggested in the Sindh Education Sector Plan within the stated timeline ending 2018, and enhance the scope and funding of the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF).
PILAP believes that this is a more pragmatic economic strategy of achieving 100% enrolment and literacy, as opposed to the traditional system of relying on the government to build and operate schools. Further, the petition highlights the miserable conditions of schools: only 45% of schools have access to clean drinking water, 52% have a latrine, 56% have a boundary wall, and 39% have electricity. Right to education includes provision of these basic facilities in all government and private schools and PILAP calls upon the provincial government to provide the necessary infrastructure to all schools that presently lack these facilities.
Unfortunately, over the course of a year and three months, the writ petition has seen the courtrooms of 6 different Divisional Benches of the Sindh High Court, without any relief. The Government of Sindh, through it’s Secretary of Department of Education and Literacy was made the first respondent in the petition. Regrettably, the Respondents took eleven months to file their comments on the petition.