Education and the Manifestos of Our Political Parties

Education and the Manifestos of Our Political Parties

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Political manifestos and education in Pakistan

In Pakistan, education has hardly been a national priority. The real transformation of improved education from merely a slogan to reality is a hectic political process. At this point, it is evident that given the current political systems and processes, politicians cater for demand not the actual rights and needs of the citizens.

Accordingly, issues such as education, health and social protection continue to take a backseat despite the fact that Pakistan has been under-performing in all these areas for decades!

Let’s specifically take the case of education. While there is no disputing that Pakistan needs education reforms and needs to up its game to bring greater number of children to schools, yet education remains a mere word in the manifestos of most political parties with no clear strategy or target to improve the country’s dismal indicators.

Also Read: Non-Implementation of Article 25-A Biggest Hurdle in Girls’ Education

Needless to say, the status quo can only be broken when (and if) the masses articulate and echo a demand for improvement in Pakistan’s education sector.

Education and the Problem with Political Manifestos

In Pakistan, it is hard to find an electoral manifest that is specific and measurable. This ambiguity poses two direct problems:

  • After each general election, manifestos decide the course of policy making for each political party – whether in government or opposition. Thus, the abstract nature of electoral manifestos poses a direct challenge for effective policy making.
  • The rather open-ended nature of political manifestos also makes it very hard to hold the political parties accountable against their promises. Without any specific targets and strategies, what are we going to analyze the performance of our ruling elite against?
Education and the Apathy of the Masses

For any cause to be successful it is absolutely important for the general public to be actively demand for its realization. Thus, as mentioned earlier, our children’s right to education can only be achieved when the citizens actively demand for it.

However, the education seems to be of little importance for the overwhelming majority of the Pakistanis – even those who are highly educated themselves. Voting preferences are often tied to political loyalties rather than a critical review and understanding of what each political party prioritizes and how their priorities are likely to impact the future of Pakistan.

Education and Political Manifestos

With the next general elections hardly a year away, it is high time to reflect upon the priorities of the political parties through their previous manifestos and influence them as they begin preparation for general elections 2018.

Below are excerpts taken from the manifestos of Pakistan’s major political parties. These manifestos were developed before the 2013 elections and their review is especially important since all the parties are now gearing up to draft new manifestos for the polls next year.

The below excerpts will give you a fair idea of where education stood as a political priority five years ago and the unattended issues whose inclusion is imperative for Pakistan’s better performance vis-a-vis education.

  1. PAKISTAN MUSLIM LEAGUE – NAWAZ (PMLN)
PML-N Flag
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org

Some Excerpts Relating to Education

  • To give preference to women teachers in primary education
  • To promote female education especially vocational training and health care programs to overcome gender gaps
  • Quota to be introduced for minorities in educational institutions
  • Dropout rate at primary level will be reduced by providing missing facilities in schools and free text books offering incentives especially for girls
What’s There and What’s Missing

Education

Girls’ Primary Education

× Girls Secondary Education

× Social Justice leading to improved education for girls

Are the goals measurable and time bound? NO

PAKISTAN PEOPLES PARTY – PARLIMENTARIANS (PPPP) 

PPPP flag
Image Source: http://adst.org

Some Excerpts Relating to Education

  • Eliminate gender disparities in education at the primary and secondary levels, especially by providing incentives for girls to enroll in school and vocational institutions.
  • Engage national commission for human development to target one million women for literacy and education programs
  • Commit 4.5 per cent of GDP to education by the end of our next term.

What’s There and What’s Missing

√ Education

Girls’ Primary Education

Girls’ Secondary Education

Social Justice leading to improved education for girls

Are the goals measurable and time bound? NO

PAKISTAN TEHREEK E INSAF (PTI)

PTI Flag
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org

Excerpts Relating to Education

  • Focus on girls education (Double the number of girls high schools in 5 years)
  • Provision of access, equity and quality in education regardless of gender
  • Provide incentives for girls education

What’s There and What’s Missing

        Education

√          Girls Education

×          Girls Secondary Education

√          Social Justice leading to improved education for girls

Are the goals measurable and time bound? NO

AWAMI NATIONAL PARTY (ANP)

ANP flag
Image Source: http://awaminationalparty.org

Excerpts Relating to Education

  • Provision of free education up to primary and affordable education for higher levels
  • Build a monitored and accountable network of primary and secondary schools in areas that are easily accessible to children especially girls
  • Implementation of 18th amendment to be ensured with regard to oil, gas, water and power, energy, health and education

 What’s There and What’s Missing

Education

Girls’ Primary Education

Girls Secondary Education

Social justice leading to improved education for girls

Are the goals measurable and time bound? NO

JAMIAT E ULUMA E ISLAM – FAZL UR RAHMAN (JUI-F)

JUI-F flag
Image Source: https://tribune.com.pk

Excerpts Relating to Education

  • Low income people to be given easy interest free loans for the education of children as well as travel and provide residence

 What’s There and What’s Missing

        Education

×          Girls’ Primary Education

×          Girls Secondary Education

×          Social Justice leading to improved education for girls

JAMAAT-I-ISLAMI,  PAKISTAN (JIP)

Jamaat-i-Islami Pakistan Flag
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org

Excerpts Relating to Education

  • Opportunities for education from primary till higher education for women

         Education

√         Girls Primary Education

       Girls Secondary Education

×         Social Justice leading to improved education for girls

Our Verdict

While all major political parties speak of education, most seem to ignore the importance of sustained education – i.e. education beyond fifth grade or primary level.

Similarly, while most parties talk about improving girls’ education, they do not seem to care about the importance of social justice, (i.e. laws and policies) that is imperative for leading girls to schools.

Finally, none of the political parties offer measurable and time bound goals. Their take on education is very generic, reflecting a lack of commitment to the cause.

What We Must Demand

Given that every tenth out-of-school child in the world is a Pakistani, we want more from our political parties than mere rhetoric. As citizens of Pakistan We must demand the following:

  • A clear strategy for improving Pakistan’s education indicators.
  • The number of out-of-school children that each party hopes to bring to schools and the year by which they hope to achieve this target.
  • A strategy to encourage girls’ enrollment at both the primary and secondary levels.
  • A clear strategy to reduce the drop-out rate of both girls and boys at primary and secondary levels.
  • The laws and policies that each party wants to introduce and implement to improve Pakistan’s education indicators.

Also Read: Shireen and Hasan Zafar Win Global Award for Educating Street Children

For these demands to become a reality, the masses will have to be mobilized to themselves critically analyze party manifestos and drive their voting preferences accordingly.

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