Social contract

The role of the government in the provision of free and quality education — even in countries having the strongest traditions of free-market economies — remains paramount. This is simply because education serves as the bedrock for the citizens in any society to achieve equality and justice. And so, without education at its foundation, the whole philosophy of the social contract would lose its legitimacy. The State of Pakistan promises this right to its children through Article 25-A of the Constitution and has been a signatory to several international treaties aimed at protecting the rights of the child, including education. A few among these include the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and their recent upgrade, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, despite signing these treaties, and the decision-makers having an in-depth understanding of the supreme importance of education in the national development agenda, Pakistan continues to stumble and struggle in pursuit of realising its education development aspirations.
A manifestation of this is the fact that after failing to achieve the target of universal primary education outlined in the MDGs, Pakistan, is once again on the road to repeating history by failing to achieve SDG-4 i.e. inclusive, equitable and quality education. The provinces have failed to conclude work on their respective SDG frameworks. There are also several glaring discrepancies across provinces in terms of reporting and evaluating their respective performances against SDG-4. These persistent issues have contributed to the overall lag in devising a nationally representative strategy on education.
To undo this wrong, as a first step, there needs to be more active coordination between the Centre and provincial governments. Continued cooperation between the federating units on education is likely to result in quicker progress to finalise the documentation and blueprints necessary to facilitate nationwide, simultaneous implementation of educational reforms. It will also provide an important opportunity for cross-learning and knowledge-sharing that will allow uniformity in documenting and reporting progress so that real-time and countrywide evaluation of SDG-4 can finally be made possible.
Moiz Hussain
Islamabad

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