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25 Million Unfulfilled Dreams!

On paper, the constitution of Pakistan states that every child has the right to compulsory and free education but millions of children are being deprived of their constitutional right. Statistics indicate that there are 25.02 million out of school children between the ages of 6-16. According to census, 55% of these are girls and the remaining 45% are boys.

Just recently, news was making rounds which stated that the education standard of Pakistan is falling. Authorities were left alarmed when only 2% of all those who appeared for the CSS examination were able to pass it.

As we go towards higher levels of education, the proportion of out of school children increases to a shocking 85%.

According to UNICEF, India’s male youth literacy rate is higher than Pakistan’s and Bangladesh’s but Bangladesh is performing better in terms of female literacy rate of 15-24 year olds.

Pakistan is lagging in both.

The urban-rural, female-male and provincial variations make the education apartheid even more severe. Chronic lack of resources, shortage of facilities beyond primary level, lack of competent teachers/managers, terrorism and emergencies are severely jeopardizing possibilities for human development and participation.

The main reason highlighted for these disturbing numbers is that parents are not willing to send girls to school because they feel daughters cannot provide for their families, like a son, thus, to invest in a girl’s education is a loss, but that DOES NOT justify the fact that the daughter has an equal right to education.

Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: TALAB UL ILMU FARIZATUN ALA KULLI MUSLIM” “”The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74)

This whole situation can not only be blamed on those parents who are doing injustice with their children by ripping them off a good future and better job opportunities but the government which has a major role to play. They are not doing anything to change the mindset of the people. In brief, problems of quality, infrastructure, access and lack of opportunity, remain endemic.

Schools should be made accessible, incompetent teachers who are just drawing salaries should be removed and competent teachers and people who want to see Pakistan rise and shine should be taken aboard to fulfill this dream.

The education budget of 2015-2016 had been increased but in the whole of South-Asia, Pakistan is spending the least on education.

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG)target of literacy rate of Pakistan for 2015 was 88pc, it has improved from 35 pc in 1990-91 but is only at a mere 58 pc. The education budget is not being properly utilized by authorities, the education stats have improved over the years but it’s less than the required rate. The problem mainly exists at the provincial level. In relative terms, most out of school children are present in Balochistan (66%), followed by FATA (62%), Sindh (51%), GB (48%), Punjab (47%), and AJK (43%).

I acknowledge the fact that at a very small level NGOs like TCF (The Citizen’s Foundation), Zindagi, Teach for Pakistan (Aman Foundation), Idara-e- Taleem o Aaghai, Balochistan Education Foundation, etc are playing their part and making the most of their efforts and working day and night to improve the situation. More should be done by the government for a better education system which will eventually solve a lot of problems Pakistan is facing at the moment.

The above mentioned petrifying statistics manifest a chronic dilemma of a post-colonial society, unsuccessful to design an effective national education enterprise.

On a positive note, the experiences of the past six decades hold many lessons, which can contribute towards the re-designing of our education system and a possibility that no dreams in the future will be shattered.

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