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A solution for millions of out-of-school children

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Children have not failed to reach school; the school has failed to reach these children.

According to a UNICEF report, around 22.8 million children between the ages of five to16 are out of school in Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, these kids can neither read nor write, as a result of which they are labelled as illiterate or uneducated. Some scholars believe that such labelling is unjustified because children do not stay out of school purposely or willingly. Their socio-economic conditions or even geographical locations don’t allow them to join a school. Therefore, children have not failed to reach school; the school has failed to reach these children.

The solution suggested in this case is a concept known as ‘de-schooling’, which is defined as ‘the process of adapting to a less formal education where children often take control of what and how to learn’. This refers to alternative modes of learning. Although such modes of learning already exist in Pakistan, out-of-school children cannot benefit from them due to lack of awareness, language barriers, and seemingly no financial rewards.

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Initially, Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich invented the concept of de-schooling in 1971. He stated in his book that de-schooling ‘allows the learner to choose what they will learn, from whom they will learn, and why they will learn’. Some researchers believe that initiatives such as Khan Academy and Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) exemplify de-schooling. Additionally, free massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered on platforms such as FutureLearn, Coursera, Edx and others are alternatives to school-based education. Even in the context of Pakistan, Sabaq.pk and other digital platforms are offering content which is accessible to anyone with a stable internet connection. However, thousands of children still cannot benefit from them.

Despite the fact that these resources are just a click away, millions of children are still unaware of them. Many children living and working in urban centres do not know about these platforms, let alone those living in rural areas. As a result of this gap, they cannot make use of such vital platforms. However, even if these children were to have knowledge of these modes of learning, they would still need some technological assistance to learn through them. In this regard, small scale awareness seminars can be arranged on tehsil levels to better reach these children. Furthermore, some hands-on workshops can be conducted so that children can learn how to access material through smart phones.

Apart from lack of awareness, language is another big barrier to overcome. Although some of the content on the aforementioned Pakistani digital platforms is in Urdu, the website navigation and a lot of other details and instructions are in English. This makes the content inaccessible in the first place. Additionally, the psychological fear of English spoken among other students keeps them from further exploring these websites. Translating the websites in Urdu or a local language can help children navigate through the tools easily with little or no technological or otherwise outside assistance.

More importantly, children spending time on learning through these channels will eventually be beneficial for their household incomes. Especially in rural areas and low-income households, children are generally not encouraged to seek education or any kind of activity without a purpose of earning. In such situations, they can never get an education, no matter how convenient it is. Not a single child will invest time in doing something that does not have financial rewards. After all, their families rely on them to provide for the household.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the idea is to incentivise learning by giving monthly scholarships to those who show a proficiency in a certain skill or in a subject. Their proficiency can easily be tested through annual or semi-annual exams in local schools or vocational centres.

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Post COVID-19, we have seen how fluid education can be. Traditional ways of learning and attending schools in-person is no longer compulsory in order for children to learn. Online classes can do for children as much or if not more than having to spend hours inside a school. Thus, children can truly benefit from e-educational platforms if the government thinks seriously about educating all the children of this country.

In conclusion, our educational infrastructure will take years to develop if we want 22.8 million out-of-school children to be in school. De-schooling can be the way forward. With wonders of technology and so many digital resources available, we need to do very little to make schools reach these children instead of asking children to come to school.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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