Pakistan Coalition for Education held two Policy Discussions on 12th Annual Convention in Islamabad themed around “Re-thinking Education in the times of Covid-19”. Around 100 participants attended the two sessions. The discussion brought focus to the host of unprecedented issues and limitations COVID has brought forth, and how to move forward with the education agenda. Ms. Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator of PCE commenced the discussion with an overview of the educational landscape under COVID and how important it is to ensure inclusivity and equity for marginalized groups particularly girls, children with disabilities, students belonging to low socio-economic backgrounds as these sections are facing the compounding impact of covid-19 due to economic crises, closure of schools, learning losses that further weaken education system of the country.

The first policy discussion titled “Progress, Challenges to Achieve RTE and SDG-4 in times of COVID-19” focused around the progress, challenges to achieve Right to Education, SDG-4 in times of covid. The panel comprised of a diverse group of academics and experts who evaluated and deliberated on public financing for education; implementation of 25A RTE and SDG 4 and provincial overview of the status of Girls education. A session on Voluntary National review (VNR) of Sustainable development Goals particularly SDG4 was also held to discuss the VNR 2022 as Pakistan will submit its progress to UN high level policy forum and spotlight reports of civil society representing citizens’ voices and agenda. The discussion highlighted the findings of spotlight report and recent review of SDGs in Asia Pacific done by UNESCO and UNICEF along with the shortcomings in key areas such as financing, expenditure and enrollment along with impact on learning outcomes.

The second policy discussion titled “The Digital Age of Education – Impact of Covid-19” took into account emerging issues such as lack of hybrid and distance learning models and the inequality surrounding its employability in Pakistan and the opportunities available to improve the access to education through these models. The session also enabled discourse around the mental wellbeing of students and how it is impacted during the pandemic. Participants demanded for an inclusive and open discussion on education issues in order to transform agenda in combination of effective legislative reforms, strong parliamentary oversight to implement existing education policies and plans during pandemic.