Know your rights: Ilmpossible

Published: January 22, 2012
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Distracted by the political instability of the country, Pakistanis have failed to draw their attention to the termites that have been incessantly devouring the well being of the country. The crippled education system of Pakistan has proved to be one of these destructive creatures. Nevertheless, the presidential assent given to the Constitution (18th Amendment) Bill in April 2010 was an occurrence of great magnitude in this matter. 

What were the outcomes of the 18th Amendment?

It turned Pakistan into a parliamentary republic; it removed the powers of the president to dissolve Parliament unilaterally. What else did it do to the constitution? It gave a right that was unprecedented.

Article 25a inserted in the Constitution of Pakistan says:

‘The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law.’

It seemed to be the beginning of a revolution in the education system of Pakistan. But issues of low enrolment rates, ghost schools, lack of trained teachers and proper physical infrastructure exist till day and underline the poor performance of this sector. Having said that, one should ponder on the question that if such is the state of implementation of laws, is this the way that Pakistan is going to meet its Millennium Development Goal?

In 2000, Pakistan pledged to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal for education along with other countries, promising that, by 2015 ‘children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education’.

Thus, it sounded convincing when the Pakistan Task Force in 2011 declared an education emergency in the country. It is inevitable that it is too short a time to achieve such a big target. It is high time to pay heed to this issue.

Article 25a is certainly a ray of hope for the millions, a positive step towards meeting the target and building a prosperous Pakistan. What is required for the operation of this provision in the constitution is just passing of the laws on the part of the provincial assemblies.

But are people aware of this article in the constitution in the first place?

Ilmpossible, a campaign launched in November 2011 aims to spread awareness to the citizens of Pakistan about article 25a, encouraging them to attend school without being subjected to any impediments. Thus, working with the objective to improve literacy levels in the country in the long run. The supporters of this campaign, ‘Ilmbassadors’, take oath to further spread awareness about this right in their communities. They carry out this work through social and mainstream media or by interacting one-on-one with the citizens residing both in the urban or rural areas nationally.

The idea should primarily be to value each drop that makes the ocean, whether it is the first or last one. Joining platforms like these can be one way by which appreciation should be shown to the Parliamentarians for taking an initiative to make education a fundamental right, and no more a privilege.

To learn more about Ilmpossible, please visit their Facebook page.

Mehak Ameer

Mehak Ameer

A law student of the University of London International Programmes who is also a member of Ilmpossible. She tweets @mehakameer

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