ISLAMABAD: As the new educational year starts, the education authorities in the federal capital hope to welcome as many as 1,100 children dressed in crisp new uniforms who were not in school during the last educational year.
However, this is just a fraction of the 27,300 out-of-school children discovered in a third-party survey of the federal capital.
After taking over as the Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mehmood had late in November last year had launched a campaign to survey the out-of-school children in the federal capital apart from launching an enrollment drive.
The survey was conducted by the federal education ministry through its autonomous organisation, the Academy of Educational Planning and Management (AEPM), and found that as many as 27,300 children in the federal capital were not enrolled in educational institutions.
Moreover, a three-month-long survey by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has identified that as many as 11,000 out-of-school children are in six sectors of Islamabad including Urban-1 and Urban-2, Nilor, Sihala, Bara Kahu and Tarnol.
This data was then provided to the related federal schools while the directorate was working on tracing the details of the remaining 26,000 children.
Then in the first phase of the enrollment drive, as many as 1,100 of these out-of-school children were enrolled, including three whom Mahmood enrolled personally by signing off on their forms.
But with the survey now complete, the actual enrollment campaign has begun in earnest.
The three students who had been enrolled by Mahmood have been appointed as the ambassadors of the campaign.
The educational responsibilities of the ambassadors have been entrusted to the education foundation which already initiated character-building sessions for them in December.
Sources disclosed that these children will be facilitated by providing them with free lunches, while their parents will be given special sessions to make them aware of the importance of education.
As part of the new enrollment campaign, more than 2,000 children have been admitted in just the first three days.
Area Education Officer Sohail Ali Khan said that they have tasked senior school officials to enrol children in areas around their schools who had been identified in the survey.
Meanwhile, Education Foundation Chairman Zafar Qadir said that they were working on means to attract children and keep them engaged in school and studies to help combat dropout rates. In this regard, he said they were trying to modernise their schools like those in the private sector by installing interactive boards.
Further, they intend to provide children with free bags and uniforms.
Separately, Education Ministry Spokesperson Rafiq Tahir said that they were working on ensuring 100% admissions of all out-of-school children identified in their surveys.
Moreover, he said that the government will take all measures to ensure that these out-of-school children, once enrolled, would never have to drop out of schools.
He added that they are scheduled to meet with some non-government organisations (NGOs) on Monday (today) where they intend to give them new responsibilities.
DPC committee in doldrums
Even as it makes progress on enrolling students the chief education body of the federal capital is struggling with ensuring its teachers are promoted in a timely manner.
Despite making new service rules for teachers, the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has yet to announce dates for creating the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) and the Departmental Selection Board (DPB).
These boards will be primarily responsible to promote teachers of all cadres in government-run educational institutions operating under the FDE.
Delays in the announcement of the board have pained teachers.
In this regard, the teachers’ associations have demanded that the federal education secretary complete this process immediately by instructing the FDE to prepare cases of regular and time-scale promotions of teachers in all cadres.