BY ANSAR ABBASI
ISLAMABAD: While billions are being spent on the perks, privileges and protocol of country’s elite, the authorities are reluctant to provide meagre Rs25 million required to enrol 10,000 out of school children in a Gilgit-Baltistan district within a span of few weeks.
Ghizer, the district in Gilgit-Baltistan, is the only such region in the whole of the country where the administration has complete data of out of schools children. The data has been collected by the district administration on its own and without getting any extra finding from the government.
Deputy Commissioner Ghizer G-B Rai Manzoor Nasir, while talking to The News on phone here on Saturday, said that he had sought Rs25 million from the G-B government, but the Finance Department turned down the request saying that no such allocation was made in the budget.
He said that he has been asked to wait for the next budget, adding that if he is provided Rs25 million, he would make his district a role model in the whole of Pakistan where 100 percent children would be enrolled and school going.
Rai Nasir said that his district is also the first one to have collected the complete data of out of school children whose number is over 10,000 in Ghizer.
After not so encouraging response from the G-B Finance Department, he said, he personally approached the Federal Education Ministry official with the request that he should be provided the required money from the available international funding for out of school children.
Rai, who is from Punjab Civil Service and has been posted to G-B, said that in case the required funding is provided to him, he would ensure the enrolment of all the children of his district within two weeks. Rai informed that he has also recommended a legislation to make its mandatory for every parent to send his child to school.
Referring to the Constitution, he said that it is the state’s responsibility to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law. Unfortunately, he said the required efforts have not been put in by any government in Pakistan to achieve 100 % enrolment.
Even required legislation has not been done by all the government. As a result even today, he added, there are 25-million out of school children in Pakistan. He said that after his posting in district Ghizer (Gilgit-Baltistan) as deputy commissioner in July 2014, he got the out of school children’s data from the Education Department, Ghizer.
The Education Department data showed a total number as 2,431. He said later, he decided to verify the data and thus established an education cell in his office. During the cross-verification of the data by different sources (from 4 to 12) and unbelievable omissions were detected, he informed.
“Door to door visits were carried out by different teams to get authentic data and required details,” he said, adding, “Now, we know the name, age, father’s name, complete address and reason(s) for not going to school (poverty, school at farther place, harshness of teacher, non-availability of teacher, some physical or mental impairment etc.) of each out of school boy/girl from the age of five to sixteen years in whole of the district.”
He said that the final figures show that there are more than 10,000 children (age between five to sixteen years) out of school in district Ghizer. Ghizer is the only district in Pakistan which has such reliable and correct data of out of school children and that too has been obtained without spending even a single penny from the government exchequer, the DC said.
“I pushed the parents to send these children to schools but most of them told that they don’t have resources even to buy books/school bag/shoes etc. Although, 876 students have been admitted through my efforts, but heavy majority is still out of school due to poverty,” he lamented.
He said he does not have funds for this project. He said he did not even have any fund for data collection but managed to do it with his personal contribution of Rs100,000 while Rs200,000 was donated by an NGO. He said that the district he is managing is poor and does not have any industry owing to which donations cannot be collected from the local community.
He requested for Rs25 million to send the out of school children of Ghizer to schools. With this money, he said, he wants to buy the first-day-kit (books, uniform, school bag, shoes tec.). If money provided, the children will be admitted in school just within two-weeks. To a question, he said that the space problem in the district schools could be addressed through temporary arrangements, which he has already done in certain cases.
He said he wants to make Ghizer a role model with 100% enrolment for which he direly needs government support and funding. –The News