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Education Emergency Pakistan


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Only 35 per cent of school children, aged 6-16, can read a story, while 50 per cent cannot read a sentence. – Photo by Fayyaz Ahmed

Today, Pakistan is crippled by an education emergency that threatens tens of millions of children.

No country can thrive in the modern world without educated citizens.

But the emergency has disastrous human, social and economic consequences, and threatens the security of the country.

2011 is Pakistan's Year of Education.

It's time to think again about Pakistan's most pressing long-term challenge.

The economic cost of not educating Pakistan is the equivalent of one flood every year. The only difference is that this is a self-inflicted disaster.

One in ten of the world’s out-of-school children is a Pakistani.  That is the equivalent of the entire population of Lahore.

There is a zero per cent chance that the government will reach the millennium development goals by 2015 on education. On the other hand, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are all on their way to achieving the same goals. India's improvement rate is ten times that of Pakistan, Bangladesh's is twice that of Pakistan.

But, despite this gloomy situation, determined efforts can show results in only two years. What is required is an additional spending of Rs.100 billion, a 50 per cent increase over current spending.

Pakistanis have a constitutional right to universal education, a little discussed or known fact of the law. What has been overlooked in the discourse on the 18th Amendment is that education has now become a right and no longer a privilege as it was previously. Article 25A sets up a possible scenario where a citizen can take the government to court for not providing them access, or even be the grounds for a suo moto action.

At current rates of progress, no person alive today will see a Pakistan with universal education as defined in our constitution. Balochistan would see it in 2100 or later.

Just one year of education for women in Pakistan can help reduce fertility by 10 per cent, controlling the other resource emergency this country faces.

There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan but send more of their children to school, demonstrating the issue is not about finances, but will and articulating demand effectively. It is too easy, and incorrect, to believe that Pakistan is too poor to provide this basic right.

Pakistan spent 2.5 per cent of its budget on schooling in 2005/2006. It now spends just 1.5 per cent in the areas that need it most.  That is less than the subsidies given to PIA, PEPCO and Pakistan Steel. Provinces are allocated funds for education but fail to spend the money.

We presume the public school system is doing poorly because teachers are poorly paid, this is untrue. Public school teachers get paid 2/3rds more than their equivalent private low cost school counterparts; they earn four times that of the average parent of a child in their school. Despite this, on any given day 10-15 per cent of teachers will be absent from their duties teaching.

There is demand for education that is partly being addressed by low cost private schools, even one third of all rural children go to these schools (public schools can cost Rs.150 per month, low cost private schools the same or up to Rs.250). Despite the large presumption of the media, both domestic and international, this gap is not actually being addressed by Madrassahs. Only six per cent of students go to Madrassahs.

Only 35 per cent of school children, aged 6-16, can read a story, while 50 per cent cannot read a sentence. Their performance is only slightly better than that of out-of-school children, of whom 24 per cent can read a story. This alarmingly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of schooling.

30,000 school buildings are in dangerous condition, posting a threat to the well being of children. Whereas 21,000 schools have no building whatsoever.

Donors are not the solution, while they grab headlines regarding their development work, government spending remains the majority by an overwhelming margin.

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Comments (34) Closed

Azizur Rehman Pathan Mar 09, 2011 01:06pm
alarming as it is projected. unfortunately we,pakistanis, are the most neglected citizens on te globe. Who is responsible for this mess? we the educactioanally unarmed citizens or the will-less government? . I would stand out to be on putting entire onnus on the people who have yet nor realized the importance of education in the well being of their own and ultimately to our country . We all , vocal sections of the society , need to join in suggesting the ways to fill the following gapes: a) More schools are to established with quality education offered by corporate and private sector through direct chenelling of fund from state government and international funding, b)Strict monitoring of all running public and private schools through incentives offered against accontablity and progress c) last but not least ; a mass compaign generating demand for quality eduation from the side of parents /community . I am sure steps taken above will drag closer a scenario where all we alive today could see a brighter and healthier trend in our educaiton system
halalkhan Mar 09, 2011 03:20pm
One more suggestion, make the following mandatory for the personnel of Military Incorporated, set up, run and teach in primary schools. Payback the nation, which gave them plots of land - agricultural, residential and commercial in every part of the country.
Muhammad Kashif Mar 09, 2011 04:43pm
There is no doubt that Pakistan really need some special efforts in lifting its literacy rate because we really need to understand this genuine fact that without education nothing can be done, and now most importantly the thing which we need to understand is that we must include something in our national curriculum that could help us in creating,maintaining and easing global harmony and for this the best subject can be developed with the theme of "comparative studies of religious books", although this is not unique idea but can produce unique results in terms of practice for Pakistan and rest of the world if it could get the chance to include in our national curriculum which means both in public and private schools,another important thing here to mention for the consideration of readers and authorities is free health care facility concept should be start in Pakistani private and public schools which is right now in practice in several other countries of the world.
anup Mar 09, 2011 05:02pm
You spent 1.5% only on education, but morethan 10% on defense . Does that make sense ?
Mudassar Mar 09, 2011 07:13pm
Even education system is so poor that the difference between an average 10 year old school going child and non-going child is not much. Public school are giving nothing to children in form of education they r just going to school and coming back. Teachers are incompetent and irresponsible mostly. Private schools have their own agendas and their syllabus and system is so different and varied to each other that they r almost producing a confused generation. So quality of the education is even more important than increasing the number of school going children. If you go higher to secondary school and higher level matter is even worse. Under this Govt. things are going toward an epic fail pretty soon. Talking about 1.5%? from the looks of it they are almost spending nothing on education even the Punjab Govt. who is hyping about education. All this need a massive work, movement and planning to get corrected. And expecting Govt. to do that is foolish. We need many people like Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman (ex-Higher Ed. Chairman)and those are put there in us or one of us. @anup, please keep the defense out of this discussion that will go to a different direction, thanks.
Shahzore Farid Mar 09, 2011 07:55pm
Pakistan in order to have a bright future should start spending on education as early as possible !!!
hot boy Mar 09, 2011 08:38pm
yes education is the verse part and other are not better than education, how many peoples of Pakistan are going in Libraries , how many are tring to give benafits to other, every one can criticise on the other, we need to correct ourselves first than we should blame on the Govenment , our Government is doing as per the resourses which we had.
Paul (USA) Mar 09, 2011 10:02pm
It is unfortunate that Pakistan sees India as a military threat and therefore ends up spending much needed resources on military. India is not so stupid as to invade Pakistan and end up with more problems. Even 6% Pakistanis attending Madrassas are too many. How many maulvis you need? Religious education is good but cannot help you earn a living. This is a time to rethink for the good of Pakistan.
Shah1987 Mar 09, 2011 11:05pm
Money is required more than any academic critique of inefficiency.
Khurram Gillani Mar 09, 2011 11:30pm
I think that to blame a single Government or to criticize the defence budget is not the solution of the problem. I think our Government, Education Sector And Administration of Education should meet together at a table to review the Education Policy and make reforms in the education sector because without education we are nothing. We are far behind in education from our neighbouring country India. We have to think. Our Quaid had said in his Debate "Education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan"
dr ali Mar 09, 2011 11:41pm
READ FOUNDATION is doing a lot of good work,by bringing education to poor children . the report sounds a bit too pessimistic. maybe our media should start a national campaign for basic education.
sp Mar 10, 2011 01:04am
Well, Pakistan made a deliberate choice on national priorities. The establishment chose to make Pakistan a security state and preferred to spend 12% of GDP on defense (including military pensions, perks, debt servicing on past military acquisitions etc.) and pronounce India as the perpetual enemy. So what is the use of complaining now?
Odhano Mar 10, 2011 03:17am
It's a wake-up call for all of us. An uneducated Pakistan means weaker and more unstable Pakistan than an undefended Pakistan.
Masood Ahmed Malik Mar 10, 2011 03:36am
we need to provide quality education to our children in nice study environment not like Industry. One Syllabus in all Pakistan rather its private or government institute, easy and fair exam system, A child study too many books in one day, i think it must be divided on different days etc.... Education must be easy for students and give them a proper study environment with professional and qualified Teachers. If educational department want to know about swedish education system then i can send you all information in details and also work for this cause as a free lancer. thank you Masood
Sannam jan Mar 10, 2011 05:54am
Only spending money is not the solution. There are people who are paid every month supposedly teaching in schools but tey are staying at home and someone else is marking their attendence. When every pereson of a society is a thief what can you expect?
Prashant Mar 10, 2011 09:27am
Pakistan, and Pakistani people..Please take a note...India is not at all intrested in taking over Pakistan.We have enough problems. So please stop spending on Defence. Save yourself NOW...or it will be too late !!!
abdul sattar Mar 10, 2011 10:00am
enough for heart pain.
sanober khan Mar 10, 2011 10:11am
"Education Emergency Pakistan "is the best way to educational protest.
Tahir Mar 10, 2011 11:22am
Pakistan needs leadership having clear vision and sincerity.
S L Dua Mar 10, 2011 01:29pm
As an Indian, I wish Pakistan well for education. I wish more and more people in Pakistan are imparted quality education at all levels i.e. primary, middle and higher levels. Only then, people of Pakistan and India shall seriously think of living togather peacefully according to the principle of "Live and let live". Have my best wishes.
Somi Tanoli Mar 10, 2011 04:20pm
The educational situation and system both are really a sham not only for the government but for the entire nation. As we all contribute to it to an extent (however more responsibility is towards govt). If we really want to come forward for possible solutions to handle this self inflicted disaster then we should address the following issue. * There should be an immediate and reasonable increase in govt funds towards education. * The allocation and utilization of money should be sensible and fair, and it should be monitored. * I really feel sorry but that's a bitter really that our educational system completely sucks. It's producing nothing else but the parrots (that only recalls whatever you teach them) or the monkeys ( that just know how to copy). So the educational means needs to be addressed seriously. * One more thing which I feel should be amongst the priorities that there should be the same educational medium through out the country. And there should be an equivalent educational system for everyone. * The syllabus needs to be updated. I feel no change in our syllabus over the last decade. It doesn't mean that there isn't any progress in a world during that time however; it shows that our syllabus haven't been revised since ages. * Not last but the least, at least the basic education up to the completion of secondary school ought to be free for every one, which will encourage parents to send their kids to school. All the best Pakistan and my nation !
Tahir Rizvi Mar 10, 2011 10:25pm
Pakistan needs education to sustain itself. Without education we will not prosper, we will not be able to keep our independence and we will not be able to maintain our democracy. We have fewer resources as a nation since we are not a rich country. However, our defense is getting a bigger and bigger share of our limited annual budget at the cost of our education budget which now has created an education emergency. While defense department is getting drone air planes and state of the art equipment our schools lack basic facilities, science labs and computer labs. We must rebalance our priorities and provide adequate percentage of our funding to education. Pakistan has following major priorities: 1. EDUCATION 2. DEFENSE 3. ECCONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Let us maintain balance and equal emphasis on all three priorities our nation faces. Neglecting one to promote the other is unwise and will compromise our future very seriously.
aamara khan Mar 10, 2011 11:38pm
Pakistan has yet to decide its educational priorities as corruption, lack of morality and desire for easy money and un employment prevails more in so called educated. Pakistan was much stronger economically when education was less but people were more hard working and god fearing. We used to import less and export more a basic ingredient for socio economic uplift.
Javaid Iqbal Mar 11, 2011 10:52am
I believe only three decisions by the government can lift up the education sector that is the government should declare education sector as tax free and invite the locals to have collaboration with the leading educational institutions in the world for spreading of quality education.Secondly, the government should allocate its state land free of cost to the entreprenurs inteding to establish international universities.Thirdly, the outstanding educationist be brought on the flashlight at electronic media for inspiring the younger generation and kick start of our compaign for education.
msms Mar 11, 2011 12:14pm
A reasonably educated pakistan and india will benefit each other mutually. First the rift between extreme poverty and stinking rich will narrow down as exploitation will decrease. Second educated minds will see sense faster and better and more likely to co-exist than cut each other's throat. Third as social parameters increase in both the countries it will serve a good platform for mutual trust as manipulating forces will lose ground. This will eventually result in spending good money in both countries for welfare of their citizens than buying weapons from western world and make them richer at the cost of our sweat and blood. I am no intellectual but i would love to see a prosperous pakistan and india being friendly and backing each other. best wishes to one and all of both these wonderful countries.
Khalid Rahim Mar 11, 2011 06:41pm
A sage stated Education is not learning;It is the excercise and development of the powers of the mind.There are two great method by which this may be accomplished.It may be done in the halls of learning or in the conflicts of life.Our education system is like our political system that has no set criteria to achieve its aim. Sri Lanka with 100 percent literacy achieved this by involving all under-graduate and graduate students to spend two weeks during their long vactions to teach.I believe in Pakistan the minimum requirement to teach the Alphabets will be Masters in Education,Urdu or English.For further instructions such as to write a sentence,or dictation an MPhil or PhD.And then he/she who apply must have connection with the ruling party?
shaukat Mar 13, 2011 12:22pm
shaukat Mar 13, 2011 12:36pm
i think our main problem is corruption.
ashfaqueshah Mar 13, 2011 01:51pm
our main problem is the corruption and landlords of village
Atheists Mar 14, 2011 12:34am
I would like to add few lines which were missing in the below comments. As a common citizen we could not change the attitude of regime. The poor Discussing is completely wasting the time. We need some rapid ideas which will help to our children education. 1. The educates should do part time volunteer teaching job at least 1 year in their lift time. 2. Parents should team up and question the teachers who were absent to the schools. 3. Let children to participating extra curricular activities in the schools. This will give interest the children towards education. 4. Poor parents should follow the family planning. So it’s easy to provide education to all. 5. People should start dreaming about the prospers country. Prospers starts from dreaming. Dream about prospers will make people ready for change.
iblees Mar 15, 2011 02:45pm
In this 'time of emergency,' three factors will be decisive to attain success: 1. Define what 'education' is required, before 'how' to do it? For example, is Madarassa qualified as education, if yes, how so, if no, why not? 2. Second comes, 'where' to start? Both in the terms of 'context,' i.e., school system, education infrastructure, grants, investments, etc and in terms of 'geographical preferences,' i.e., where it is needed most? 3. Lastly, once the process is started, it is useless IF it is not sustained.
EDUCATION Apr 27, 2012 06:28am
I like what you have written. Keep up the good work
nouman afzal rana Apr 29, 2012 06:45am
Ist of all, I m very thnx ful to giving such authentic information. I think it is only public who is responsible. If v analysis according to population, there r maximum 1.5 million buerucrtes type people in pakistan. and v r... so kindly b +ve. V r responsible nd v should chng ourself entirly.thnx
Toufique Ahmed Aug 15, 2012 11:06am
I think parents need to concentrate on the better future of their children, most of the parents are not paying their attention on the education of their children in rural areas of pakistan