ISLAMABAD: Media and education professionals attended the ‘Media and Civil Society Collaboration Workshop’ here during which the speakers proposed unification of media and the education activists to improve the miserable state of education in Pakistan. The meeting was called by Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) and supported by Open Society Institute.
Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) is a civil society network of more than 200 organizations working on research-based policy advocacy on education issues. Prospects for creating effective linkages between media and education sector were explored in the workshop so that there is flow of information from both ends and education issues can get due advocacy and importance on both electronic and print media.
Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Executive Director of Center for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) addressed the participants regarding implications of 18th Amendment emphasizing on the right to education and right to information of every citizen. Mukhtar Ahmed said that education was not included in the fundamental rights chapter of the 1973 Constitution; however, it declared primary education as compulsory but not free education.
He said it was recently through the 18th Amendment by inserting Article 25-A that education was declared as compulsory for children (5 to 16 years of age) and it was also included in the fundamental rights chapter. Under the 18th Amendment, the central educational system would be devolved to the provinces and it would further complicate the things as all the provinces stressed on only primary education as compulsory, he added.
He said the issues related to education could not be highlighted until and unless media preferred an education story to a political story, the voters demand from an elected parliamentarian that why he did not visit schools of his constituency and other sections of the society emphasized on education. Mr Ahmed said the issues related to education became headings in the newspapers or electronic media only when they were attached with politics and fake degrees issue was one of them.
Zaigham Khan, a Development Consultant and journalist laid stress upon the importance of education process reporting more than merely sellable event reporting. He laid stress upon the role of media in advocating right to education for the marginalized people of Pakistan constituting approximately 60% of total population. He said media played an instrumental role in getting the Higher Education Commission (HEC) out of the financial crunch by highlighting the issue. He said that country’s 70 per cent was being spent on defence while education was being given only meager 2.7 per cent. Mr Khan said that state should be made as a welfare stare rather a security state.
Addressing the workshop Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator of PCE said “Our vision is to ensure quality education for all, irrespective of gender, religion and class differences”. Pakistani media holds serious responsibility in creating awareness regarding education among masses. It was discussed that issues related to education cannot be given due importance until and unless media prefers an education story to a political story.
This meeting aimed to build communication and coordination mechanism among activists and media person. In this regard all possibilities of effective information sharing and liaison were discussed. The participants formed an e-group to remain in touch with each other; sharing researches related to education and identifying education issues requiring due importance in media. PCE aims to have similar kind of consultations across all provinces in order to provide a common platform for journalists working on education beat aiming to promote education for all. -SANA