LITERACY: CAUSES AND REMEDIES

READY TO SACRIFICE OR LET OUR GENERATIONS ASTRAY

MULAZIM ALI
PAGE Research
Jan 07 - 13, 2008

Education is regarded as a necessary constituent of human resource development for a developing economy. It is a key for social, economic and personal development which in turn brings quality of life coupled with necessary skills required for the future prosperity and sustainable economic growth.

Today, Pakistan is enjoying a decent economic growth but still the basic education sector is being ignored widely. This sector is allocated with lower chunk of developmental expenditure. While the situation further aggravates when the assigned budget is mishandled at provincial and district level. If the situation does not resolve to a respectable education system, then we can not expect a sustainable economic growth in this fast moving world saga. This is the time where the system needs sacrifice on our part. If Government has and is not executing its responsibilities, we also do not perceive our own responsibilities. Being bestowed with the blessings of education and wealth; are we not responsible to pay Zakat of our ILM and wealth for the education.

STATUS OF EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan, at present, is not up to the mark with less than 50% literacy rate where other countries like Srilanka and Maldives have achieved full literacy. India, according to a study done by World Bank, has attained 100 percent Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) and 90 percent Net Enrollment ratio at the primary level. According to United Nation Development Program (UNDP), in terms of Human Development Index and literacy rate, Pakistan comes at 134th and 153rd position respectively, out of 177 countries just above Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Yemen only.

COUNTRY

LITERACY RATE (ADULT +15)

ENROLLMENT %

PRIMARY COMPLETION

CURRENT PUBLIC SPENDING PER STUDENT

PUPILS TO TEACHERS RATIO

(% of GDP)

Pakistan

49.9

82.1

86.7 app.

4.0

37.5

Iran

77.0

103.0

94.6

4.8

20.0

India

59.6

87.1

86.7

3.3

40.2

China

90.9

117.6

99.0

3.0

21.1

Afghanistan

28.1

92.9

25.3

NA

65.2

Nepal

48.8

113.9

71.0

3.4

35.8

Bangladesh

35-50

108.9

76.4

2.2

53.5

World Bank Statistics 2004-05

Education budget for the fiscal year 2007-08 has been Rs.24.1 billion which is about 4% of GDP, and is 28.59% more than the allocation of Rs.18.8 billion for the fiscal year 2006-07. Earlier the budget allocation for education has been less than 3% and less than 2% most of the time. On the other hand Pakistan has been among the world's 12 highest recipients of external aid under "Education for All" program in South Asia, and at least three-quarters of this aid is intended for basic education, according to (UNESCO).

The gross enrollment ratio (GER) or the level of participation in pre-primary education in Pakistan remained between 35 to 50 per cent whereas pre-primary pupil-to-teacher ratio was one teacher per 40 students in last year.

PROVINCE

LITERACY RATES %

Sindh

47

Punjab

53

NWFP

35.7

Balochistan

20

Federal Bureau of Statistics 2004-05

LOOPHOLES IN THE SYSTEM

The biggest loophole, or we should say the mother of all the loopholes, is improper management in education at all fronts from strategic to the teacher levels.

There is general perception that the budget is not utilized appropriately. In some instances it is mishandled and in some occasions it is burgled at all levels of their management. Mishandled, in a sense, the utilization of the educational budget is not planned properly.

Building school is on higher priority of the local politicians as it earns their votes. There is lack of necessary staff there and the SNE of the most these schools is not sanctioned by higher authorities. As a result total investment on the infrastructure goes in veins. The schools opened don't have sufficient facilities; not having fans while in summers. At many villages the schools are deserted and these schools become the safe heaven for the addicts.

In the villages the Government provides schools only for primary education and at very convenient distances but high school education is available at substantial distances, where children can not reach easily without a proper transport. People in these areas normally don't have their own transport facilities. Now a days QINQIS are available, which is good transport than GADHA GAARI, but all these are not sufficient for parents to consider it adequate to send their girls to school. So in most of the cases girls get education only to primary level.

Politics, Bureaucracy and landlord influences play greater role in teachers' deployment in the remote areas. The teachers being under such hand avoid discharging their duties honestly. We can see schools without teachers, locked for many days resulted in giving birth to many problems such as misuse of school infrastructure etc.

The accountability system is miserable. Though the Government has taken some measures to improve the system but even then it lacks honesty. SMC (School Management Committee) is the practical example of it. The committee includes head of school, teachers and respectable personalities of the areas. There is only six monthly inspection of students' knowledge. Supervisors visit schools monthly but the visit is only related to discuss matters of administration.

Children of the age in Pakistan and especially in Sindh villages don't have any enthusiasm and passion for education. This is because mostly people's thinking has become to learn to earn simply. There are many reasons behind that thinking:

Increasing unemployment
Long prevailing poverty
Old educational system
Increasing entertainment trends
No encouragement of talent by Government

These and many more are the real cause of decreasing trends of education in our nation.

Today it looks as if it has been ages since the education syllabus was changed in a way to match the global standards. We learn what our fathers and forefathers learned.

Government has been taking many measures to cope up with the existing problems in this regard, but it requires more stringent, comprehensive and honestly implemented plans to curb the problems.

REMEDIES FOR BETTERMENT

The challenge is two-fold; one is to improve the education management, infrastructure of schooling and quality education while other is to cope with social evils which create problem in the education system.

The correction of the social evils is reciprocally dependant on education and poverty evenly. The poverty can only be alleviated if we achieve major breakthrough at agriculture which comprises the major part our GDP and benefits the majority of population. Government should take bold measures to boost the agriculture industry so that 70% of the population living in rural areas gets the most of the benefits of the growing economy. Until and unless they get out of the misery of the poverty, they won't pay heed to education and can not fight the political and feudal powers; consequently, there won't be any substantial education and economic growth of our country.

Socially we all educated and/or wealthy people should also recognize this as our social duty to educate at least one person individually. If we pay Rs.500 to Rs.1000 as stipend to an individual to get his/her education it would be more than enough for him/her to get at least primary and secondary education.

With that Government should increase the education budget and with that there should be proper and private sector audit through established audit institutions in Pakistan to monitor the utilization of the budget at every level. Government need to take brave actions like:

Placing high hand on feudal and political influencers on education.

Enforcing stringent plan for the training of the teachers and sufficient facilities to implement the new teaching techniques at schools.

Pay more incentives to students to encourage them to study like scholarships and other competition programs.

Proper Transport Facilities should be provided for the remote areas in every district .

Introducing elementary education system with its vast benefits for the society at large.