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President Zardari signs into law free education bill

20 December, 2012

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday signed into law "The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012" to ensure provision of free-of-cost education to children aged 5-16 years.

The president signed the bill during a special signing ceremony held at the Chief Minister's House in Karachi that was attended among others by Sindh governor and chief minister, federal and provincial ministers, parliamentarians, senior officials and people from cross-section of society. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also present during the signing ceremony. The president congratulated parliament and all political forces on the enactment of "The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012" into law, saying it would go a long way in ensuring free and compulsory education to the children of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, the president said that pursuing Benazir Bhutto's vision of free and compulsory education the government has fulfilled yet another promise made to the people. He said that it was a historic day for the people of the country as the government has fulfilled the promise of protecting all fundamental rights after declaring education as the basic right of the citizens.

Zardari said that Article 25-A has been added to the constitution, adding that the responsibility to provide free education rests with both the federal and provincial governments and that the federal government is responsible for legislation under the article 25-A for areas under its control. The president urged the provincial governments to follow the law in their respective jurisdictions. He said that the law would ensure that that no child remains out of school hence realising country's international commitments.

Zardari said the government gave the Education Policy of 2009 as part of its policy to promote education in the country, and urged the government to ensure that that no child is subjected to any kind of discrimination whatsoever. The president said that under the law the federal government would now provide free textbooks and uniform to the children in the areas of its jurisdiction, besides ensuring that no child is deprived of admission in school and that schools have qualified teachers.

Free pre-school education, early childhood care and free medical and dental inspection would be provided to all citizens and no child will now be subjected to corporal punishment or mental harassment, the president remarked and added that government will also create professional cadre of teachers to promote quality education. He said that no fee, including admission fee, will be charged from the students and that government will provide school buildings, playgrounds, laboratories and other facilities. Under the law, the private schools will be required to provide free education to the disadvantaged students to the extent of ten percent of the class, the president said and added that school management committees will be established which will collaborate with the community for persuading parents to send their children to schools.

Zardari said that as part of government's initiative for promotion of education in the country educational awards will be instituted for teachers, educational administrators and researchers. He said that we will honour our international commitments and will achieve the targets set in Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and added that Islamabad will be made a role model in education sector for the provinces. The president said that present government would continue to work for promotion of education in the country as education holds key to socio-economic development and fighting the militant mindset. He urged the provincial governments to step forward for similar legislation.


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