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Govt leaves 9.5m kids in the lurch



The Punjab School Education Department would not be able to accommodate around 9.5 million “out-of-school children” across the province this year, sources said.

Lack of infrastructure, schools and shortage of teachers were the main hurdles in the enrolment of out-of-school children, Daily City News has learnt.

Punjab School Education Department would be admitting this year over 500,000 children in 48,000 government schools in 36 districts of the province, sources said.

In Lahore alone there are 60,000 out-of-school children.

The Punjab government has been struggling to build infrastructure for around 10 million out-of-school children, but their efforts would not be able to solve the problem of enrolling the out of school children.

The new school year in the province is starting from April 1, and the admission process at the government schools has started.

The province has a shortage of around 100,000 teachers.

A senior official of the Punjab School Education Department told Daily City News that a survey was conducted in the 36 districts of the province to evaluate the situation, and the conclusion of the survey was that the department could only enroll over 500,000 children this year in all the districts of the province.

The CEO’s had informed the department about the limited capacity at their disposal, said the official.

The official said that the department had given maximum facilities to those people who could not send their children to private schools and their only hope for their children’s education was the public sector, but the department had its hands tied due to a myriad of issues.

He said that even in the face of enormous obstacles as far as accommodating deserving children in public sector schools was concerned, the department last year started an advertisement campaign to enroll a maximum number of students.

The department had advised school heads to display banners in their localities to motivate students to get admissions at government schools, said the official.

But at the end of the day, the reality of the matter was that the department was constrained by lack of resources, said the official.

He recalled that five years ago, the number of out-of-school children was around 11 million, and it went to the credit of the department that it managed to bring down the number of out-of-school children from 11 million to 9.5 million.

Meanwhile, Rana Liaqat Ali, the secretary-general of the Punjab Teachers Union, reiterated that the main issue was the shortage of teachers.

The office-bearer of the Punjab Teachers Union said that the union had been persistently demanding of the government to resolve the issue.

Rana Liaqat Ali said that even those children who were studying at the government schools had been suffering due to non-availability of teachers.

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