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State of education in Pakistan

Published on 24th June, Edition 26, 2013

 

For the purpose of development, education is a factor which must be given importance. It plays a vital role and combats factors, which have a negative impact on society and which prevent it from flourishing. The provision of education not only helps to combat unemployment but it ensures a solid foundation within society, ensuring social equity, promoting tolerance and awareness along with building up self esteem. Unfortunately for Pakistan, over the years the state of the education sector has not been very hopeful, which has further impeded the economic development of the country.

For countries wishing to develop, education is seen to be good investment for their future. While it is a great need for Pakistan to develop its education sector and to educate its citizens, it has failed to do so. For the state of Pakistan, education is unfortunately not a high priority, which is made apparent due to historically low levels of funding geared towards this sector along with the inability of appropriate reforms to be put into effect despite the availability of funding at present.

In Pakistan, a majority of the youth are educated in government run schools; the performance of which is far poorer than what is seen in the private sector institutions. Since the passing of the 18th Constitutional Amendment stating education to be a provincial subject, it is yet to be seen whether the four provinces have the required resources and capability of ensuring the management of education. Furthermore, the state has also been unable to fulfill its constitutional obligation of providing primary education on a universal level.

While it is true that only the well off and elite classes of society are privileged enough to attain the benefits associated with private sector educational institutions, the majority of children attending public schools are faced to study from an outdated syllabus; inept teaching staff and lack of resources are thus deprived of the opportunities, which their counterparts have the privilege of being offered. The involvement of politicians has further created problems as the personnel appointed are not hired on the basis of merit or experience. With each province having its own education department, the lack of resources makes it difficult to make sure efficiency to practiced at all levels and corruption is kept at bay.

The state of public education in the country is what has unfortunately widened the socio-economic gap between the privileged and underprivileged in society. Such wide gaps tend to lead to alienation, which then comes forward in the form of violence and protests, which unfortunately occurs in Pakistan rampantly. Instead of being a sector, which curbs such differences, increases awareness and promotes understanding, it further provokes violent upsurges by not addressing the issue comprehensively and on an immediate basis.

 

On the other hand, schools and institutions operating within the private sector are far from the reach of the general population, primarily due to their profit making motive, which leads to high fees. It could however be argued that due to paying such high amounts of money, an adequate level of educational services are expected to be provided. But then again, the underprivileged being denied similar educational services simply based on their socio-economic status and lack of financial stability is not a valid enough reason and to suggest that the private system of schooling is far from the reach of the common man would be rightly so.

The disparity in the rates of literacy is greater in rural areas compared to the more developed areas in the country. For children belonging to underprivileged areas, gaining education is based on factors such as access to education and the desire to pursue it were it an option; the presence and availability of teaching staff, the quality of education and poverty.

Not only is education distributed inequitably throughout the income groups in Pakistan, discrepancies are also found region wise as well. On the global scale, Pakistan’s literacy rate ranks 113th out of 120 nations, 55 percent at present and is projected to reach 60 percent by the year 2015.

Countries having similar levels of economic development as Pakistan have higher literacy rates due to which participation within the various sectors of their economies are higher as well. Within our state, the basic requirements for providing a quality education to the masses are unfortunately not being met. And this leads to the common man i.e. those belonging to lower income families to be at a disadvantage.

Education is certainly a factor, which can help Pakistan in reaching its true potential. The people of the country need to be persuaded and made aware of the benefits they can bring not only to their own lifestyle but to society and their nation overall. The mindset of communities in society needs to change if a positive change via education is ever to occur in our state. Girls and women are continued to be exempted from education; the attainment of which can help make them independent and gradually end the social injustices practiced against them.

In terms of the efforts being made by the government itself to promote education, the budget released for the fiscal year 2013-2014 has allocated a mere 2.3 percent of its budget on education. Pakistan seems to be spending more on its military rather than on the provision of primary education whereas it is the latter which could help in achieving long term growth of the nation. In comparison, countries such as India spend 4.1 percent of its GDP on education whereas Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are reported to allocate an even higher percentage for this cause.

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