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24% Children in Bahawalpur have no access to schools. Dire need for improved accountability and media coverage of priority education issues: ILM-O-AGAHI Workshop

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Bahawalpur – 08 May, 2014 – There is dire need for improved accountability and media coverage of priority education issues and consensus building on provincial education policies by engaging media, legislators, educationists and the community.“Low enrollment rate, poor quality, lack of accountability and total absence of discourse are the key problems of education sector of Pakistan and can’t be solved without the active participation of all segments of society including media.” This was the consensus at the ILM-o-AGAHI education journalism workshop held in Bahawalpur today.

The ILM-o-AGAHI, one day workshop was organized by Mishal Pakistan in collaboration with Ilm Ideas (a 3 year UKaid funded program). More than thirty education reporters from all leading media entities, from print, television, radio and online journalism, were selected for the workshop.

Prof. Dr. Ghulam Shabir Baloch, Chairman Department of Media Studies, Islamia University, Bahawalpur, spoke on the current state of education role of media in policy development. He shared that media is a key factor for education policy development. While speaking on the occasion, he said that Pakistan faces a national education emergency but stories related to education rarely make it to the front page of newspapers or appear in prime-time slots on television.

President, Bahawalpur Press Club, Shahid Akhtar Balouch while sharing his views about the major problems in education sector in Southern Punjab said that the most effective way to achieve development and long term improvement in public health is to educate girls. “Through the powerful voice of media, journalists should make accountable to legislators, policy makers and education officials for the betterment of education service delivery in Pakistan” he added.

Senior Award Winning journalist Mubashar Zaidi Education said that education sector is one of the most neglecting areas in reporting in media. “Most of the issues related to education and literacy are being reported in irrelevant context; this undermines and diminishes the importance of the educational, training and child development challenges faced by the society” he added.

Asif Farooqui, Program Manager, ILM-o-AGAHI, while discussing the salient features of the initiative said that our objective is to encourage journalists to create narratives which enable equal access to education for all while analyzing the policy reforms within the education sector. “ILM-o-AGAHI aims to facilitate sustainable literacy, educational development and providing children especially girls a better access to educational facilities.

Sajjad Haider, ASER Pakistan representative, discussed ASER’s findings on education with the Journalists during the session. He said according to the Annual Status of Education Report – ASER 2013 National Survey, that 24 % children of Bahawalpur have no access to school between the ages of 5-16 years.

Social Media Expert Ahsan Mukhtar disusing on the topic “The Art of Story Telling in Digital Age” briefly define the importance of social media and concept of Old and New Journalism. He tells that Social media has proved itself to be catalyst in journalism reporting. “In today’s age, its very important for journalists to leverage social media platforms to assist their work in finding, verifying and publishing news” he added.

Mishal Pakistan is the partner institute of the Center for International Media Ethics and the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Networks of the World Economic Forum. Mishal assists the forum in creating soft-data on Pakistan, identifying Pakistan’s competitiveness challenges including primary health & education and higher education.

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