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An Overview of Education in Pakistan

Education is a key need along with other basics to have a goof quality of life. Similarly for any nation to prosper and develop, education should be considered compulsory from primary to the higher level and also ensuring its access within every citizen. As Nelson Mandela quoted, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Pakistan is a part of the South Asian region which comprises of over one fourth population of the world. Geographically the whole region is bonded together and is identical in many aspects such as political, historical, economical and educational factors. The natives of this area share a uniform history of culture and civilization. With a population of over 180 million people, Pakistan is the 6th most populous country of the world.

For the past 68 years, education has been one of the least priorities of the country and the literacy rate has always been an issue here. According to a recent UNESCO report Pakistan resides with the countries of the least literacy rate over the world with 55 percent and an overall ranking of 160 out of the world. Similarly in 2015 the EFA Development Index (EDI) ranked Pakistan 106 out of 113 countries. Even comparing our figures with neighbouring countries Bangladesh and India we see that we see that Pakistan spends less than 2 percent of its GDP on education which is far less than the minimum margin set by UNESCO (4 Percent). Similarly UNESCO’s global primary education report has revealed much about the poor infrastructure and lack of planning in country’s educational system.  Over 6 million children are out of schools, the second highest in the world after Nigeria. Similarly Pakistan also holds the highest number of illiterate adults after India and China. In terms of Public expenditure on Education, Pakistan is globally ranked 177. Moreover the country is also among the 21 unlucky nations who are facing an ‘Extensive learning crisis’ according to the report. In various different indicators such as enrolment, dropout rates, academic performance and literacy, Pakistan finished bottom in every aspect. Realizing this crisis, different private educational institutions, stakeholders, students and parents are trying to overcome the issue but these improvements seem very slow in front of inadequate educational policies of the government. Children studying in an inexpensive private school outshine and surpass students of highly rated prestigious government schools which show the incompetence and negligence of our educational bodies and also the lack of seriousness in this alarming situation. On a similar note, where Punjab and KPK are seeing minute improvements, conditions are getting worse in Sindh and Balochistan. Let alone in Balochistan only 45 percent of grade 5 children could solve a two digit subtraction equation. Its far lesser compared to Punjab which is 73 percent. Similarly gender discrimination in Balochistan is also at its peak. Only 25 percent of girls know basic numerical and alphabetical skills while percentage of boys near to that in Punjab. Moreover the policy paper prepared UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics (UIS) and EFA (Education for All) states that Pakistan was short of 150,000 teachers by 2015 and would further need 290,000 by 2020 to meet up International measures of primary education in the world. Pakistan is one of the 93 countries facing severe shortage of teachers. Majority of our government schools Urdu medium while majority of private institutions are English medium, these regional difference is also one major halt towards a sustainable educational society. In the same way the existence of different local Educational boards and there affiliation with schools and colleges on provincial level are also damaging the pace of learning and education. It is widely reported that bribery and corruption is on it peak in these local educational boards. Moreover the secrecy of exam papers and issues regarding fake degrees puts a question mark on the performance and criteria of these local educational boards. Similarly due to the low illiteracy rate and less awareness, people are generally old fashioned and traditional thinkers. Especially not sending girls to schools and colleges in majority rural areas is very common. Due to this education for girls in Pakistan is highly at stake and the ratio is dropped down 10:4 now.

Sadly the Year 2015 also ended with almost no progress towards Education as Pakistan failed to meet and fulfil UNESCO’s millennium Education Goals. In 2000 164 countries agreed to provide there citizens basic universal education. According to the report findings, Pakistan, Yemen and quite a few Sub-Saharan African nations have badly failed to meet these targets. The  director general of Unesco, Irina Bokova stated “Millions more children are in school than would have been had the trends of the 1990s persisted. “But governments need to “prioritise the poorest — especially girls”, she added.

These facts and figures should be a wake up call for the respective Educational authorities of our country. Its time we address the matter seriously and with accurate measures. To see our country developing and prospering, we have to make sure that every citizen has the proper access to schools and colleges because our students are our future and they are the builders of tomorrow. To overcome this critical situation, we the common citizens including our government have to step forward and take solid measures towards it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.