The News International
Published Date: Aug 23, 2020
Education needs special focus
Islamabad :Riaz Fatyana, Convener, Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs, has said that education is the area that has been worst affected by COVID-19 and requires special focus to get the sector revived.
Fatyana was addressing an online dialogue ‘Covid-19 and Pakistan’s SDG Agenda’ organised here by Sustainable Development Policy Institute in collaboration with Nestle Pakistan.
Fatyana said that reopening of schools is expected in mid-September, depending on Covid-19 situation. On the one hand, we are mindful of the safety and health of our children, but on the other hand, we fear an increase in the number of out of school children and it is a challenge to maintain a subtle balance between the two situations. He said that it is about time to initiate learning initiatives through involving civil society organisation and other stakeholders to continues education amidst pandemic. He also highlighted the importance of exchanges at parliamentarians’ level amongst different countries so that they may share experiences of how not to compromise on SGDs progress during these troubled times.
Mehnaz Akber Aziz, SDGs Taskforce Member and Chairperson Special Group on Child Rights, said that regular introspection about our response to COVID-19 is need of the hour. She further said that unfortunately, the political commitment towards the programming and financing in the social sector is not very strong while our healthcare and education sectors always remained ignored.
She said that the children-specific impacts of COVID-19 have not been analysed even though they are the ones that suffered the most during the pandemic. She said that the pandemic is still far from being over and reopening of the schools would be a big risk, especially when the schools do not have Corona-financing available to ensure PPEs etc. As far as SDGs agenda is concerned, she said, we need to identify 4 to 5 priority areas to focus upon keeping the available fiscal space. She also highlighted that online education has been expedited during the pandemic but we need to tackle digital equality now.
Earlier, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said that good news is that COVID–19 has brought the policy focus back to social sector development. However, the digital divide emerged as a key challenge that needed to be addressed at priority basis as we cannot leave anyone behind,” he observed.
Waqar Ahmad, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestle Pakistan said that it is time for all stakeholders including the corporate/private sector, to join hands for achieving SDGs. He said that venue should be provided for SME’s engagement around SDGs as SMEs are the backbone of our economy. He informed the participants that Nestle Pakistan initiated Water Stewardship programme to benefit farmers and besides, an initiative for better nutrition for the children is also being implemented. Ali Kemal, Economic Policy Advisor, SDG Support Unit, Ministry of Planning Development and Reform said that Covid-19 was a huge challenge for various sectors. However, the healthcare sector showed improvement afterwards. He said that the Ministry of Planning at present is in the process of mapping development expenditures in the context of progress on SDGs. He said that Pakistan would be sharing its second Voluntary National Review on SDGs and will be able to show progress towards achieving these goals.