EDUCATION & PAKISTAN
Apr 23 - 29, 2012
Education plays a vital role in human capital formation. It raises the productivity and efficiency of individuals and produces skilled manpower for sustainable economic development. No country can thrive in the modern world without educated citizens. Like many other poor and ill developing countries, the situation of the education sector in Pakistan is also not very encouraging. The worsening plight of education has become the most pressing long-term challenge for Pakistan.
The economic cost of not educating is the equivalent of one flood every year. There is a very little chance that the government will reach the millennium development goals by 2015 on education.
On the other hand, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are all on their way to achieve the same goals. India's improvement rate is ten times that of Pakistan, Bangladesh's is twice that of Pakistan. What Pakistan spends on schooling is probably less than the annual subsidies given to PIA, Pepco, and Pakistan Steel.
Provinces are allocated funds for education but fail to allocate them equitably. The compelling and bleak statistics are evident to exhibit the situation. Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the world and the lowest among countries of comparative resources and socioeconomic situations.
The country's education sector is plagued with nasty problems that range from shortage of funds to lack of planning. There is an absence of value that the general population places in education. Various countries even poorer than Pakistan have better number of school enrollments, demonstrating the issue is not about finances. The low enrolment rates at the primary level, wide disparities between regions and gender, lack of trained teachers, deficiency of proper teaching materials and poor physical infrastructure of schools are the root causes.
However, the allocation of funds for education are very low. It is only 1.5 to two percent of the total GDP. It should be around seven per cent of the total GDP.
Our education system does not offer the environment and opportunity of obtaining and enhancing knowledge. The curriculum of our education system is not based on its objectives to create the power of reasoning in a child. It has no direct connection with the practical life, which the students will have to face, when he becomes a mature person of the society.
Our curriculum is not updated to compete with the rest of the world in modern education. The lack of technical education is also a big flaw in the educational policy that has never been focused. Only 30 per cent of those who enroll in primary education ever reach to their matriculation exam. Regional disparity is also a major issue.
The schools in Balochistan are not that much groomed as that of Punjab. In FATA, the literacy rate is deplorable constituting 29.5 per cent in males and three per cent in females.
There are many systems working in the country, resulting in social division and conflict: Cambridge education system, secondary education system, Maderessah education system. This split is very divisive for the society and has created a huge gap among the nation and penetrated deeply into our culture. The evil of different systems for different tiers of society has perpetuated itself over such a long period of time in Pakistan that finding solutions becomes a frustrating exercise.
Different tiers have been created in our system over a period of 60 years to facilitate the hold of the elite over the governing of our nation. Most of the public sector educational institutions remain in a state of disrepair and lack even basic facilities resulting in substandard education.
Poverty is also another factor that restricts the parents to send their children to public or private schools. So, they prefer to send their children to madressahs where education is totally free. It will not be wise to turn a blind eye to these inequities.
With so many resources directed towards the debt payment, educational improvement is given an inordinately low priority. Low literacy rates are often observed with high population growth. A poorly educated population makes Pakistan a poor choice for foreign investors.
Education is the important especially for women because it provides important means for empowerment. There is a great difference in the rates of enrolment of boys, as compared to girls in Pakistan. The extremely low literacy rate among our womenfolk lends itself to a society where most women never enter the labor force. Just one year of education for women in Pakistan can help reduce fertility by 10 per cent, controlling the other resource emergency this country faces.
Amongst a nation of 180-million people, a very small fraction of Pakistanis pursue higher education.
Compared with Canada where one in every 33 people is enrolled in a university, only one in 180 persons is enrolled in a university in Pakistan. During the last decade, higher education commission received generous funding from domestic and foreign sources that led to the expansion of the higher education sector in Pakistan. Most of these funds were injected after September 2001 when Americans and Europeans channeled huge sums of money to Pakistani universities to stem the tide of religious extremism.
Today Pakistan is facing a number of problems i.e. poverty, insecurity, terrorism, sectarianism, lack of awareness, intolerance, and illiteracy because of ineffective educational system.
Despite this gloomy situation, determined efforts can show results in upcoming years. What is required is an additional spending of Rs100 billion. The government should take solid steps on this issue. Implementation instead of projecting policies should be focused on. Teachers, professors and educationists should be consulted while devising any plan, syllabus or policy.
Education ensures the development of individual's character and national values. Rightly set priorities, and a focus on long term goals is important to put the system on right track.