Education – a Poor’s Dream
With that pretentious smile and contagious positivity, Ali Asghar, a former student of grade six, rubs his hands to a dirty cloth, to clean his hands stained with grease. He settles down on a stool at a mechanic’s workshop as he recalls his story.
“I was studying at Government Boys Urdu Primary School, Korangi, but then my father found me an opportunity to earn, so I could help my family make ends meet. I had no other choice but to leave school,” he said. “But I still want to study,” he added.
Pakistan’s spending on education is the lowest in South Asia, despite the increase in the budget for education in 2016-17, there are around 12.3 million out-of-school children and this affects the most in the provision of quality education to the poor.
According to the report by Public Financing of Education in Pakistan, and the Agency for Education Budget 2016-17, “Utilization of increased education budget of 2016 needs to be improved. In Pakistan, if any social and public sector needs political commitment, it is education.”
“The infrastructure score of schools in Sindh is even less than 50% and I am looking forward to raise the standard of education,” Jam Mehtab, Education Minister, Sindh, while speaking to ARY News, commented over the inefficient educational facilities provided in the province of Sindh.
He elaborated the statistics, that 55% school going children cannot read Urdu, 74% children are not aware of English medium academics and 65% children cannot even do basic math division.
According to a research by Alif Ailan, merely 23% schools in Sindh have basic facilities of electricity, clean drinking water, washrooms and a boundary wall.
In Sindh, the count of out-of-school children is 6.2 million: which constitutes 51% of the total number of school-age children, among which 54% are girls.
“Despite unfavorable reports surfacing regarding the quality of education, the narrative of the national discourse never changed and the promise of a 4% education budget was never fulfilled,” Faisal Bari, Associate professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences, told a local newspaper while criticizing the governments’ policies towards education.
“Article 25-A was added in the Constitution but nothing substantial was done in the last six years,” Bari added.
Article 25-A of the Constitution, inserted via the 18th Amendment, declares “free and compulsory education” a fundamental right for all children aged 5 to 16.
”It makes me sad to think about the children in Pakistan who are incredibly talented, but sadly their talents, creativity and thirst for knowledge has been suppressed and they are forced to work; to be victims of child labor,” says Mohammad Shaukat Niaz Siddiqui, 66, teaches young children every day, on a pavement, in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.
Siddiqui wrote drama scripts in his younger days and now finds bliss in teaching the needy. He teaches subjects like English, Urdu, Mathematics and Religion.
The HOPE Formal School, located in Korangi, targets the underprivileged children of the community. Nearly 750 children are studying in this facility, and the students’ educational expenses are funded by the school.
HOPE (Health Oriented Preventive Education) is an NGO based in Karachi, comprising of professionals (Educationists, Doctors, Social workers) as well as grass-root workers. It aims to cater to the neglected education and health sector, in Pakistan.
A non-profit organization, The Citizen Foundation (TCF), over the course of 22 years; has 1,441 functional school units and have been catering to the needs of 204,000 students, engaging youth in activities, off the roads and in schools.