Originally Published in Jahangir’s world Times Magazine.
Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world. It enhances not only analytical abilities but also critical thinking of the students. Unfortunately, being a developing country, Pakistan faces almost all sorts of socioeconomic problems. One of the major reasons behind all these problems is low literacy rate of our country. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2016-17, overall literacy rate has declined from 60 percent to 58 percent. Moreover, overall net enrolment rate at primacy level was recorded at 54 percent. The data further show that literacy rate remained higher in urban areas (74 percent) than in rural areas (49 percent). The United Nations Global Education Monitoring Report 2016 revealed that Pakistan is 50 plus years behind in its primary and 60 plus years behind in its secondary education targets. Moreover, 5.6 million Pakistani children are out of schools. All these issues call for an in-depth analysis of out education system so as to find out a workable solution.
There are a number of reasons behind the bleak and worrisome situation of Pakistan’s education system. The most important thing is that ‘Education For All’ commitment is not being fulfilled properly. Federal and all four provincial governments seem unwilling to take serious steps in order to achieve set targets of education.
Other than this, terrorism also holds children back from schools. Between 2007 and 2015, there were around 870 attacks by different terrorist groups on educational institutions of the country. It is a bitter reality that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) closed hundreds of schools in country’s northern areas.
Poverty is another hurdle in the way of high literacy rate in Pakistan. Almost 30 percent Pakistanis are living below the poverty line. It is a sad reality that the number of children at different workplaces is more than the total number of children at schools. Amidst all the financial issues, the poor parents find it advantageous to send their children to work in order to earn a few rupees. Let it be very clear, the issues of education cannot be resolved unless poverty is controlled. Though government initiated a few schemes to provide free education at school level but it must be realized that this is not a long-term and sustainable solution. The government provides free books and a few other facilities to the students of public schools, but many of these books are in English, whereas many teachers, especially those belonging to rural areas, do not have proficiency in the English language. As a result, they ask students to buy the same book in Urdu. This shows the importance of training that must be provided to all the teachers.
In addition, all the appointments must be made on merit and all the teachers must be competent enough to train and teach their students in a better way. Moreover, in many areas, school buildings are without proper boundary walls and lack other basic amenities. Students are made to sit in open areas even during harsh weather conditions.
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