AS the world geared up to mark the Global Action Day for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistan government launched on Friday a literacy programme to provide free education to children, primarily girls. The four-year Waseela-i-Taleem initiative, undertaken under the umbrella of the Benazir Income Support Programme, aims to educate three million poor children, with President Zardari noting during its launch that “no country can make any progress without investing in its human capital”. We hope the state remains committed enough to achieve its goals. There is no doubt that, as report after report has pointed out, Pakistan faces an education emergency with the young not being able to attend school due to a wide variety of reasons ranging from convention or poverty to security — as the injuries suffered by Malala so horrifyingly demonstrated. Not only are there not enough schools in the country, Pakistan’s dropout rates are much higher and enrolment figures woefully lower than they should be.

The grim picture of the fate of the next generation, particularly its female members, is drawn in clear lines by the recently released Education for All Global Monitoring Report. Pakistan is among the bottom 10 countries in terms of education for females in straitened financial circumstances. It was also amongst the last 10 for the amount of time girls spend in schools in their lifetimes, with almost two-thirds of the poorest girls never going to school at all. These figures are cause for serious concern, for coupled with population growth and demographic figures, they point towards a future where growing numbers of people are not just poor but illiterate as well, thus further decreasing opportunities for uplift. Only if the government takes strides towards achieving the Waseela-i-Taleem initiative’s goal can it be considered to have demonstrated its commitment to this crucial sector.

Updated Nov 11, 2012 08:05pm

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Comments (2) (Closed)

akhter husain
Nov 12, 2012 05:41pm
It is a welcome step forward that should be pursued religiously without any hindrance.It is also imperative to to improve the condition of existing schools that are in very bad shape..
Nov 12, 2012 11:34am
by launching this program, the government has showed its seriousness, to improve the grim situation of education sector in the country in general, and girls education in particular. but its not enough , the government should launch other such laudable programs to halt the increasing illiteracy rate.