30,000 children in capital out-of-schools

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Saddia Mazhar,

Islamabad: Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood was told on Wednesday that there are 30,000 out-of-school children in the capital.
Minister for Education and professional Training gave directions to Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to take measures to bring these children into schools.
The minister was visiting the FDE, which looks after the 423 educational institutions of the capital, for the first time to get a briefing about Islamabad’s education sector.
The FDE was earlier under the control of the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division which the PTI government abolished. FDE has now been placed under the education ministry.
FDE minister brief the minister about the functioning and challenges of the directorate as the FDE does not have a permanent, or temporary, director general (DG) and has been headless since Oct 10 when temporary DG Hasnat Qureshi relinquished his charge.
Mr Qureshi was the chairman of the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (Peira) and looked after FDE affairs as an acting DG for over a year and a half.
The minister said the government had a vision for bringing 25 million out of school children into schools and that the 30,000 children in Islamabad should be enrolled in schools on a priority basis.
Sources quoted the minister as saying that the federal capital should be a model for the provinces.
The minister said adult education will also be focused on and that double shifts should be started in areas which are short on schools.
He said the education ministry will help FDE become paperless and start an online filing system.
The minister was also briefed on the Prime Minister’s Education Reform Programme which was started by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The minister said the buses procured under the programme should be distributed fairly and that those schools which are facing a shortage of buses should be given preference.
The sources said that the minister will be given another briefing on the reform program by the officers who have been dealing with the project.
“The minister also assured us that a DG will soon be appointed,” an FDE official who participated in the meeting said.
Mr Mehmood also visited Peira, an organisation which deals with private sector education in the capital city.
Peira Member Imtiaz Qureshi briefed the minister about the functioning and issues being faced by the authority.
He was told about litigations between Peira and elite schools which had challenged its rules which bars them from charging fees above the set limits.
The minister was told that there are some 700 unregistered schools in the capital and that of the total 1,242 schools of which the authority has data, 525 have valid registration.
According to sources, Peira Chairman Hasnat Qureshi was told hours before he was to brief the minister that he had been repatriated to his parent department many days ago by the ministry and that he should therefore not give the briefing.
They said Mr Qureshi had concerns regarding the procedure adopted by the ministry for repatriating him which is why he was reluctant to relinquish charge.
Sources said that Peira Member Imtiaz Qureshi was given acting charge as the authority’s chairman till a regular appointment is made and that Hasnat Qureshi later relinquished his charge.

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