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Main Points by Chief Guests
Main Points by the Chief Guest & Key Panelists at the National ASER 2012 Launch on January 28th 2013 - Islamabad

Minister of Education and Training Sheikh Waqas Akram, the Chief Guest while speaking at panel discussion held for the ASER 2012 launch at the Planning Commission in Islamabad said that later in April this year, the president of Pakistan will be meeting the United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with a one point agenda focusing on education for influencing the post 2015 goals. He said this is indicative of the government's dedication to addressing education as one of the major issues challenging the country.

The ministry in Islamabad is just a facilitator to work on policies to ensure progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals’, said the minister. He said the ministry in Islamabad was shaping a platform to bring together all provincial education ministers in order for them to discuss the issues in a holistic manner for influencing the post 2015 priorities.

Regarding meeting the MDGs, he was of the view that while there was no denying that Pakistan was lagging behind, there was no reason to lose hope. ‘We have given our commitment to international bodies to push our spending on education to 4% of the GDP’, he said. But he insisted on the need for a collaborative effort on part of the provincial governments and the federal to ensure effective policy making and improve the standards of education delivery in the country.

Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission in Islamabad, DrNadeem ul Haque while speaking during the panel discussion at the ASER 2012 launch, said that despite Pakistan facing a dearth of resources in the education sector, technology could provide a good alternative with its ease of access. ‘Technology is on our side’, he said ‘with initiatives like Khan Academy educating hundreds of children, internet and technology is something we can rely on to make up for the areas we lack in’.

Mrs. Farzana Raja, Chairperson Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) speaking about the Waseela-e-Taleem project, which has been launched under BISP, said a poverty survey was done to identify the families that were living in abject poverty. As many as 7 million families had been identified as those which were living below the poverty line, she said. The chairperson said the survey had indicated that children were unable to go to school owing to poverty. Under the Waseela-e-Taleem project, each family will be awarded a financial monthly stipend of Rs. 200 per child up to three children per family. She laid much emphasis on the need for improving teacher training and quality of education provided to children. She also reiterated that the provincial government must increase their spending on education to almost 4% of the GDP. "All is not so bleak, we agree with the GMR and UNESCO figures on Pakistan and Nigeria having the highest numbers of out of school children but we are adamant to reign in 3 million through the Waseela -e-Taleem project. Our data is robust and we can link any partner to the program , the household and the child who needs urgent attention. DFID and the World Bank are supporting this nationwide initiative. We are very happy to work with partners across the country to step forward and merge our data sets for reliable information that can address the out of school challenge substantively.  

All speakers acknowledged the ASER effort as a reliable source for data on key indicators of quality, access and equity to inform the right to education debates and influencing the enactment of article 25A across Pakistan.  

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