Poverty Keeping 26 Million Children Out Of Schools, NA Told

Federal Education Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui says a pilot project to provide children with breakfast in school has received an encouraging response and will gradually be expanded to the provinces

Poverty Keeping 26 Million Children Out Of Schools, NA Told

More than 26 million children in Pakistan are currently out of school for various reasons.

"The main reason behind the out-of-school children is poverty," Federal Education and Professional Training Minister Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui told the National Assembly the other day.

"We have been making all-out efforts to sensitise [the public]."

Dr Siddiqui, who hails from the government's ally the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), said that the country's education sector needs immediate action as Pakistan stands at a crossroads with no option to lose.

"Even though education is a devolved subject, the ministry makes all efforts to sensitise the issue globally," he said, adding that his ministry was ready to sit with the respective provincial ministers to deliberate on the issue of out-of-school children.

In this regard, Dr Siddiqui pointed to a pilot project in the federal capital in which students in some schools were being provided with breakfast, keeping in mind the impact of poverty on keeping children out of school.

"We got a good response from the breakfast initiative," he said, adding that this formula will be expanded to the provinces.  He added that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has declared an 'Education Emergency' across Pakistan.

Last month, PM Shehbaz declared an 'education emergency' across Pakistan to enrol around 26 million out-of-school children and promote literacy as the country seeks to regain its lost space and develop it as one of the most educated societies in the world.

"We will handle the challenge of 26 million out-of-school children. We will bring them back to school…I declare from this moment an emergency in education all over Pakistan," the prime minister had declared.