Civil Society Organizations has demanded of no cut in annual education development budget of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the fiscal year 2020-2021. Addressing a press conference here at Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, Qamar Naseem, Program Coordinator of Blue Veins and education rights activist working to speed up the progress towards girls’ secondary education said “Considering the current situation of COVID-19 in the country, we are anticipating delays in enrollment and other routine educational activities but we also have fear of increasing the ratio of girls drop out and their early age marriages after COVID-19 period due to economic stress in families.
He said “Millions of children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are out of school and the only reasons is not COVID-19, it is because We don’t have enough schools, we don’t have enough teachers, We don’t have enough facilities and above all there are “social taboos” and “patriarchal norms” that keeps hundreds of millions of girls out of school. Sana Ahmad a girl’s rights activist said “for many school-going age girls, especially those from low-income and the poorest families, access to education is already a challenge, and the crisis of COVID-19 has further exacerbated the situation. It is anticipated that prolonged school closure can also result in drop out of girls.”
The activists said that emergencies exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and intensify the existing learning crisis. It is difficult for girls from the poorest communities to access and utilize remote learning strategies, either because access is limited or because the burden of care often falls on women. “Keeping in consideration the socio-economic challenges, the government needs to ensure equitable approach to resources and increase budget allocation towards girls’ education,” Jannat Mehmood, a Social Activist pointed out.
They also demanded that Education Development Budget in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should not be cut down and needs to be increased in this critical period to promote innovative solutions for education. Similarly, the provincial government must address gender gaps in access to education by doing gender sensitive budgeting and by building new girls’ high and higher secondary schools in the coming fiscal year.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should prepare Rules of Business of KP Primary and Secondary Education Act 2017 to ensure enforcement of Right to Education and safeguard the constitutional guarantee of free and quality education from age 5-16, they added. The provincial government must keep its commitments to students by helping them connect to accessible remote learning opportunities and ensuring girls can re-enroll when schools are open again and priorities education in their coronavirus responses.