OUR literacy rate is said to be 56 per cent. In fact, this figure is not reliable and also includes those who can only write their names. In spite of the rows of educational plans, policies, conferences and five-year plans, our literacy rate could not increase much.
Pakistan ranks at 113th position among 120 countries of the world. This is an international embarrassment.
The literacy rate could not increase mainly because of the illiterate woman population in the country which comprises more than half of the population.
The unequal distribution of colleges and schools occurred at the beginning when in 1947 among 10,000 primary schools only 1,700 were for girls and among 19 professional colleges only two were for women.
The GDP for education is only 2.1 per cent. Even this is not used honestly. On the other hand, 60 per cent of the budget is spent on defence.
Some people, including politicians, say there is a lack of resources in the country, but this is really not the case because our country is full of natural resources.
If the lack of resources is to be blamed, how did the Japanese get over this problem in not more than 20 to 25 years of their independence? How the Cubans, the Somalians and the Vietnamese did face these hurdles as they were in crisis at their initial years too.
The only difference is that they gave policies and implemented them while our governments only laid emphasis on giving policy documents rather than implement them. The only gap between the policies and literacy is the lack of implementation.
The other main issues include lack of proper monitoring and checks and balances, especially in public-sector education because of which many ghost schools have started to appear, and women suffered as a result of gender bias and remained confined within the four walls of their homes.
Only proper monitoring and a sound, corruption-free system can eradicate this gap between the nation and development. Apart from it, adult literacy is badly needed and the government should take action to this end.
Also, the GDP must be raised to at least five per cent because underdeveloped countries spend even more.
Lastly, the education minister must be a person from the education sector who has the deepest knowledge of the field and enough experience in solving educational problems, not a politician.
GHAZALA MURAD KHAN Gilgit, Baltistan