Futures on hold

Published September 20, 2023

IT is a sad turn of events when one is caught between choosing to fill their fuel tanks to get to work or paying the month’s power bill. Living costs in Pakistan have soared to an extent where citizens are forced daily to make such impossible choices. How is one to select one and forego the other? Yet, such sacrifices are becoming more commonplace than one might realise. With the August inflation rate clocking in at 27.4pc, the very foundations of societal progression are under threat. The streets bear witness to a populace on the brink, with protests erupting nationwide. Amid this economic maelstrom, a distressing trend has taken root: financially strapped families have begun pulling their children out of school. Some have opted to homeschool the younger ones while the older siblings appear in exams privately. Others have turned to the more economical option: madressahs. It is a choice born not out of preference but out of a despondent resignation to the economic realities.

This apparent solution, however, conceals a perilous trajectory for the future of our children. Focusing primarily on imparting religious education, madressahs in Pakistan are not inherently designed to provide a well-rounded experience that equips children with the necessary skills to venture out into the modern world. While this is not a blanket assertion on all seminaries, there is the ever-present danger of children falling prey to extremist ideologies, to the promotion of militancy and hatred. The need of the hour is stringent oversight by the government on the operations and curriculum of these institutions in tandem with efforts to reconsider economic policies that have brought families at this juncture. The government must heed the signs of these pressing times, shaping policies that harmonise economic stability with educational accessibility. No child in Pakistan must be robbed of the opportunity for a broad-based education on the count of economic hardship.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023

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