Education emergency

Published February 1, 2021

RECENTLY, on the International Day of Education, UN Secretary General António Guterres commended students and teachers for their resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted education and learning for countless students around the world. However, an estimated 44pc of all Pakistani children between the ages of five and 16 were not even going to school in the first place, and the figure is noticeably higher for girls than boys. On Wednesday, the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development conducted an online discussion on out-of-school children in Pakistan, looking into some of the reasons why such a large percentage of the population has never stepped foot inside a classroom, or has dropped out before completing their studies. Even though Article 25-A of the Constitution directs that the state provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16, an estimated 22.8m children are not in school — the second highest figure in the world for that age bracket, according to Unicef. Furthermore, as noted in the IED discussion, Pakistan’s population rate is rising at an alarming rate, and the number of out-of-school children will only grow in the near future, as the distance between demand and supply increases.

The reasons behind low attendance and high dropout rates is manifold, but primarily connected to poverty and accessibility issues. There are simply not enough schools in the country — particularly for secondary and higher studies, and especially in rural areas — and transport expenses remain a major concern for parents, along with all the other expenses. Children have to walk long distances, often with heavy schoolbags, and if there is no one to accompany them, parents may opt to take them out and put them to work — inside the home or outside. Additionally, if there is a gap in their studies, as there will be with the pandemic, children or their families are often reluctant to return to class. The state must wake up to this aspect of the challenge.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Unyielding onslaught
12 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...
X diplomacy
Updated 12 Jun, 2024

X diplomacy

Both states can pursue adversarial policies, or come to the negotiating table and frankly discuss all outstanding issues, which can be tackled through dialogue.
Strange decisions
12 Jun, 2024

Strange decisions

THE ECP continues to wade deeper and deeper into controversy. Through its most recent decision, it had granted major...
Interest rate cut
Updated 11 Jun, 2024

Interest rate cut

The decision underscores SBP’s confidence that economic stability is gaining traction.
Rampant zealotry
11 Jun, 2024

Rampant zealotry

Decades of myopic policies pursued by the state have further aided the radicalisation of significant portions of the population.
Cricket breakdown
11 Jun, 2024

Cricket breakdown

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only ...