Establishment of Non-Formal Basic Education Community Schools (BECS) for out of school children is an innovative initiative taken by Pakistan. The Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training, Government of Pakistan through Directorate General of Basic education Community Schools is running the nation-wide Non-Formal Primary Education Program in all provinces and regions of Pakistan, named as “Establishment and Operation of Basic Education Community Schools in the Country” (BECS).
As per Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, provision of basic education is a fundamental responsibility of the state: Article 37 (b) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan clearly describes the importance of education and the responsibilities of the state as free and compulsory education up to secondary level is the constitutional obligation of the state.
Article 25-A, added in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan through the 18th Constitutional Amendment, identifies the education as one of the fundamental rights of the people. Constitution Article 25-A: “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of five to sixteen years of age in such manner as may be determined by law.”
As a follow up of Article 25-A, the Parliament has passed the “Right to free and compulsory Education Act, 2012”, which not only declares education as a fundamental right, but provides penalties for non-compliance.
Main objective of BECS Project is to Strengthen non-formal approach to supplement formal education, for eradication of illiteracy and achievement of Universal Primary Education (UPE) as envisaged by Constitution of Pakistan’s Article 25-A, and in MDGs, by extending free, flexible and modern basic education opportunities to out-of-school children and youth, having no access to formal system of education, especially disadvantaged children, girls and special children, for an equitable society.
Pakistan has designed a National Plan of Action to accelerate implementation strategies which will ensure maximum progress in achieving MDGs education related goals. The National Plan of Action estimates a total of 6.2 million primary aged Out-Of-Schools Children (OOSC) during 2013-16. As per the Plan strategy, 5.1 million children will be enrolled during 2013-16. The issue of remaining 1.1 million children has not been addressed in the Action Plan. As the state is responsible to educate these out of school children and we are legally bound to give them opportunity of getting basic education. Hence it is proposed that the remaining 1.1 million children that have not been included in National Plan of Action may be catered for by Directorate General of Basic Education Community Schools, by establishing additional 36,666 Basic Education Community Schools in addition to the already planned/ allocated 16,891 BECS. Keeping in view the above situation, establishment and operation of Basic Education Community Schools is the best option, due to its mandate, design and through Non-Formal Education system, to make accelerated efforts to achieve the UPE/ MDG targets by educating Out-of-School-Children and increasing literacy rate. It is pertinent to mention here that average cost per student in BECS is Rs.1, 561 (almost six time less) as compared to Rs. 10,142/ of formal public schools system.
In order to make accelerated efforts to achieve the UPE and MDG targets, BECS program is the best option, due to low cost, easy to establish, easy access, gender equality and community ownership.