Education is considered an important aspect in developing a nation’s future. It is the asset upon which future generations are built.
In Pakistan, education system has mostly taken a back seat. The trend in Pakistan’s budget allocation show that spending on education has been low as compared to other sectors.
Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, according to UNESCO.
Although the education policies have almost always addressed this issue, the realization of these policies has somewhat missed the point.
Education is one of the most important aspects in building a nation. Citizens of a country shape it up as a nation. Education provides knowledge about social issues, helps build rational thinking, develops problem solving skills and improves logic in people.
Moreover, primary education provides the basis for human development. In Pakistan, millions of children are still on the streets or victims of child labour.
Pakistan is faced with multiple issues of grave importance at the same time, for a long time.
Let’s have a peek into the leading issues.
1. The education system is not uniform. The medium of teaching in most public schools is urdu. But in the job market, we see high demand for people with good command over English language, specially for white collar jobs.
2. There is lack of transparency and accoutability for the funds that are allocated to public schools. Corruption has degraded the education system to a pathetic state. The facilities in public schools are in deplorable conditions. Some important issues are electricity, water, toilets and boundary walls.
According to a study published by UNDP, a policy of improving facilities in schools, as part of a broader focus could help in improving student enrolment.*
3. The salaries and incentives for teachers are very low. This leads to high absenteeism and high turnover for teachers in public schools. Good teachers not taking up teaching positions effects the quality of education and students’ attitude towards education.
4. Parents are not willing to send their girls to school. According to a 2014 study by Alif Ailaan, girls make up more than half of out of school children with the top reason that parents dont allow them.** Higher education or even primary education of the girl child is considered taboo in many rural areas of the country.
5. One more problem leading to drop outs and low enrolment in public schools is that most children have to help the family earn a living. Increasing poverty in the country is making it difficult for parents to afford education. It gets difficult for children to even complete primary education. Many out of school children are actually victims of child labour.
Each of these factors if addressed effectively, can improve school enrolment in Pakistan and lead to a better literacy rate. It is a constitutional obligation of the government of Pakistan to provide basic education free of cost to each and every child.
* Memon, A. S. and Naz, S. (2014) School facilities and education outcomes: A preliminary examination Development Advocate Pakistan Volume 1, Issue 2. [Online]. Available: http://www.pk.undp.org/content/pakistan/en/home/library/hiv_aids/development-advocate-pakistan–volume-1-issue-2/analysis–school-facilities-and-education-outcomes–a-preliminar.html
**Alif Ailaan. 2014. 25 million broken promises: the crisis of Pakistan’s out-of-school children.
Islamabad: Alif Ailaan. x+70 pp.