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. – Photos by Fayyaz Ahmed

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.
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.
One in ten of the world’s out-of-school children is a Pakistani. That is the equivalent of the entire population of Lahore.
Pakistanis have a constitutional right to universal education, a little discussed or known fact of the law.
Pakistanis have a constitutional right to universal education, a little discussed or known fact of the law.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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Comments (21) Closed

Agha Ata (USA)
Mar 09, 2011 07:30pm
Nothing ever made me literally cry for Pakistan. These facts about educationi children did.
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Abdul Rauf
Mar 09, 2011 08:41pm
May God bless this nation with leaders with brains and greed to bring this nation n country up in the line of developed countries. I believe its not just on the leaders but a responsibility of every Pakistani to play there role in bringing education to every child in whatsoever way.
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Dr. Nazir Malik
Mar 09, 2011 09:11pm
Dear Editor: With due regards, I like to share the following with your readers, our government and you: 1. I come from a small village near Sargodha. There was no school in our village until 1954. 2. Because government did not own any land in our village, we not only donated land we also built a one-room school. We kept adding additional rooms and now we have 4 rooms and 168 students, about 60 of them are girls. 3. Because there are some parents who do not like to send their daughters to boys school, I approached the education authorities as well as the Chief Minister of Punjab for approval of a primary school for girls. 4. We were asked to transfer land to the department of Education, a reasonable demand, which we did back in 1990. 5. Still it took almost 13 years to get approval from the CM's office. 6. UNFORTUNATELY, WE STILL DO NOT HAVE OUR SCHOOL FOR OUR GIRLS AND ALMOST 50 OR SO LITTLE GIRLS' LIVES ARE GOING TO WASTE. 7. lAST YEAR, i OFFERED, VIA A WRITTEN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT, TO BUILD THE SCHOOL MYSELF IF THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT WOULD ASSIGN, AT LEAST, ONE FEMALE TEACHER . 8. YOU MAY LIKE TO KNOW THAT A TEAM OF 'EXPRESS NEWS AND EXPRESS TV' VISITED OUR VILLAGE AND PUBLISHED AS WELL AS BROADCAST IN DETAIL THE SAD STORY REGARDING THE GIRLS SCHOOL IN OUR VILLAGE. IT FELL ON DEAF EARS. WHILE I AM NOT DISAPPOINTED AND HOPE THE SCHOOL WILL BE BUILT SOME DAY, i FEEL VERY SAD THAT OUR GOVERNMENT IS IGNORING THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR MAIN ASSET--EDUCATION OF OUR FUTURE GENERATION--WITHOUT WHICH THERE IS LITTLE HOPE OF FACING THE FUTURE AND CREATING A HEALTH, WEA;THY AND DIGNIFIED SOCIETY. MAY aLLAH [SWT] HELP US. AMEEN. RESPECTFULLY, Nazir Malik, MBE, MA, PhD
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Yousuf
Mar 10, 2011 01:16am
I think its high time Pakistan swift some of its tightened budget from buying missiles and maintaining military barracks to schools and universities. At the end, nations are not only created to defend country from invasions but also to make lives of its citizens prosper. Otherwise it would have been better living under the British rule.
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Abdur Rehman
Mar 10, 2011 09:40am
Agreed it is a pathetic situation. It is the responsibility of each Pakistani who got education must pay back by literating at least one more Pakistani and rememmber, First Hukme Rubbi is ' IQRA'. EHDENAS SARATUL MUSTAQEEM (Ameen)
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SAMIA
Mar 10, 2011 11:48am
This condition is deep routed menace.It is not solely responsibility of the Goverment every Pakistani should take a positive role in this condition.Untill the parents do not support their children they will never be educated.The Government must provide all basic facilities and easy access to education.The prosperity comes through an educated nation.
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Shamim
Mar 10, 2011 12:13pm
That's verey true, Yousef. But the policies of our country, Pakistan have always been discouraging the true spirit of education. Since 1947, they have been the security measures and our interference in the internal issues of countries such as Afghanistan and India, which has consumed maximum of energy and money. We had better spend more on education rather than on our military and corrupt political leadership.
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BABUR HUSSAIN
Mar 10, 2011 01:01pm
It is the duty of the Government of Pakistan to make arrangements to educate every child of this nation. But it looks they don't care about that absolutely.
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Prashant
Mar 10, 2011 05:38pm
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 !!!
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BRR
Mar 10, 2011 08:35pm
If education is valued by people, things would not have come to this situation. Pakistan has created a security state, and a religious theocracy instead of seeking prosperity thru education. How difficult is it to fund education, especially when the much hated US is providing billions for development programs. When will the govt. find funds for education if it does not do so even when a significant part of its bills are being paid by foreign governments.
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Rizwan Khan
Mar 10, 2011 08:50pm
The country is plagued by the feudel system that does not want the fellow men educated. We can sit here and blame spending money on defense or the goverment for all our educational shortcoming but the problem lies with the feudal culture of pakistan that does not want anybody educated.......its nice when 80% of the population is illetrate....so nobody has the smartness to raise there voices against the goverment....or the feudal lords that own majority of the land in pakistan.
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Agha Ata
Mar 10, 2011 10:28pm
I always thought it was the feudal lords who wanted the nation to remain illiterate, but now I think it is also the army that should be blamed for this. One solution (though, impossible) is to hadnover the portfolio of education to the Army and make it responsible to provide schools, teachers, and books to all children for the next 20 years with absolutely no increase in its annual budget.
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Intrepid
Mar 11, 2011 01:40am
I have studied in depth about the creation of Pakistan an in particular about the wealthy Nawabs, Nizams, in effect the affluent fuedal landlords that could afford to participate in the process of making Pakistan happen. Objectively speaking, while the landlords "helped" in the cause of Pakistan, their individual records regarding those that inhabited their lands remains dismal if not abject! From the Nawab of Dhaka to the Bhuttos to all the others landlords...the common thread that bound them was their collective opposition to providing education to the masses under them because of the empowerment that results from education. As I look at Pakistan, arguably there are strong similarities between the Pre-Pakistan folk and the Post-Pakistan leadership, clearly identifying that while only 2%-5% of the wealthy are able to receive some form of valuable education, the large majority of Pakistanis are being kept uneducated and therefore disenfranchised. I think it is a shameful matter that Post Jinnah, not one elected or through-a-coup leader has ever improved the lot of the masses of Pakistan especially in the area of education. Without education, a society, a nation, a country is doomed to wither away whether by allowing terrorists or people that will undermine the character of the country and total chaos in general to overwhelm the fibre of the country. With all due respect, Benazir did nothing to improve this situation, Nazimuddin, Liaqat Ali, Ayub, Musharraf and Zardari have done zilch to achieve this very fundamental but essential and imperative need for Pakistan. Sadly, I don't see a change in the future, near or in the distance, once again possibly giving rise to a revolution in Pakistan and this time potentially a bloody one!
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Muhammad Rohaan Sadi
Mar 11, 2011 04:07am
Nothing will change if we keep on saying that the Government is doing nothing. We can not leave Pakistan at the hands of the current politicians. I think the responsibility lies more on us than any politician and it is us who have to do some thing about it even on a smaller scale. In the current list of politicians, I only consider Imran Khan to be the man who can do good for this country as far as education is concerned. I am not being biased by any way but it is true that this man has the vision which none of the other politicians have. As far as the comment from Mr. Prashant is concerned, Defence is the right of every country. We all know very well the interests of both Pakistan and India in one another so it is pointless to say that India has no interest in Pakistan. Moreover, please dont worry about the defence budget of Pakistan but focus on your problems some of which are self created. I have a strong int
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Prasad
Mar 11, 2011 06:27am
Hi Nazir, Do you have facilities for internet? I can arrange for internet based education from US. regards Prasad
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Bashir
Mar 11, 2011 11:19am
Only a fool will think of all this spending on education. That should be left to the parents. The country should be making bombs and missiles. As Z.A. Bhutto rightly said, we will eat grass but will make the bomb, we have no problem in eating grass, But we need to make more bombs, many many more bombs.
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Shankar Dash
Mar 11, 2011 11:25am
It's a dismal scenario that Pakistan is facing 'Education Emergency'. As per BBC online news coverage I came to know that only 65% of schools have drinking water, 62% have latrines, 61% a boundary wall and 39% have electricity. This scenario does not streer Pakistan to knowledge-based society, a wheel to development. Your political leadership must mull the crisis with a view to getting out of the crisis. Comparatively liberal religious leadership also have a role to play in this direction. They definitely comprehend that EDUCATION is more powerful weapons than lethal weapons such as atomic bomp Pakistan has in its arsenals. Pakistani leadership must realise that security threat does not emerge only from outside in particular from India. Rather Pakistan's religious extrimism, fragile economy, severe disaster Pakistan has recently faced can play havok in terms of national security. But, education can arrest all these evil elements ensuring national prosperity and national security. As a SARC country member (from Bangladesh), I think that our prosperity as a region depends on each country's individual performance contributing to collective performance as a south asian region Shankar Dash. Jr. Consultant (Primary Education Development Program-II) Bangladesh I
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Yasser Hameed
Mar 11, 2011 11:43am
You should contact TCF - The Citizens Foundation of Pakistan. They will build and manage the school there.
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Harry
Mar 11, 2011 12:34pm
Well, I'm glad you're not running the country. Living on grass - are you serious? What's the point of building bombs to protect a nation, that can't even feed or education its own nation. Not to mention, India has offered Pakistan 25 Million dollars for the floods that took place, so maybe it's time you don't become so anti-(insert any country).
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Talat
Mar 11, 2011 06:17pm
Everybody is talking about a Revolution. The newspapers are full of the " youthquake" hitting the arab world. All eyes are focused on Pakistan. " When will it happen in Pakistan?" everyone is asking. Yes, do have a revolution, but have a Revolution for education! Bring about a revolution where everyone gets education. that is what is needed!
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Suresh
Mar 12, 2011 11:54am
Why the ventilation of the class room is sealed? Perhaps, depicting the fate of education is Pakistan?
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