Pakistan needs to address ‘education emergency’

Published: March 10, 2011
The sector currently receives 
lesser subsidies than PIA, Pepco 
and Pakistan Steel Mills. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI

The sector currently receives lesser subsidies than PIA, Pepco and Pakistan Steel Mills. DESIGN: SAMAD SIDDIQUI


Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Education Task Force co-chair Shehnaz Wazir Ali have declared an ‘education emergency’ in the country, though adding that only political will is needed to make a significant improvement.

This was stated in the Education Emergency Pakistan report, released on Wednesday. It was published by March for Education, which is a project of the Education Task Force, a non-partisan body that includes representatives from the federal and provincial governments and NGOs.

Ali said Pakistan is spending all its resources on defence and state security. The report says that an additional spending of Rs100 billion is required, which is 50 per cent more than the current spending.

Pakistan spent 2.5 per cent of its budget on schooling in 2005/2006 and now spends just 1.5 per cent in this area. That is less than the subsidies given to PIA, Pepco and Pakistan Steel. “We need to step out on to the roads for an education emergency and address it as a national issue as we do when there is a petrol price hike or CNG strike,” Ali said.

“It is high time everyone steps up and plays their part whether it’s the Army, the judiciary or the bureaucracy,” she added.

Ali further said that there has been no federal government or education secretary that has been able to make the change. According to the report, at the current rates of progress, no person alive today will see a Pakistan with universal education as defined in our constitution. Balochistan will see it in 2100 or later. In a statement, the prime minster said that Article 25-A of the Constitution enjoins upon the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged between five to 16 years, which makes this task a shared responsibility between the federal and the provincial governments.

He said that after the 18th Amendment, education is precisely a provincial subject and the federal government would only extend policy guidelines.

The comprehensive National Educational Policy 2009 has set the goals of raising the annual budgetary allocations for the sector to seven per cent of the GDP and increasing literacy to 85 per cent by 2015.

According to the Education Emergency Pakistan report, the economic cost of not educating Pakistan is the equivalent of one flood every year. Other facts state there are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan but send more of their children to schools, showing that the issue is not about finances, but will and articulating demand effectively. It is too easy, and incorrect, to believe that Pakistan is too poor to provide this basic right, the report said.

Ali said that there is a demand for education that is partly being addressed by low cost private schools.

The report says that public schools can cost Rs150 per month, while low cost private schools may cost the same or up to Rs250.

Despite the large presumption of the media, both domestic and international, this gap has not actually being addressed by madrassas. Only six per cent of students go to madrassas.

Moreover, only 35 per cent of schoolchildren, aged between six to 16 years, can read a story, while 50 per cent cannot read a sentence. Their performance is only slightly better than that of out-of-school children, of whom 24 per cent can read a story. This alarmingly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of local schooling.

According to the report, there are zero per cent chances that Pakistan will reach the millennium development goals by 2015 on education.

“This is not just another emergency declared, this is a matter of Pakistan’s survival,” said Ali.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • ghulam-e-mustafa
    Mar 10, 2011 - 10:57AM

    shut down the dens of bigotry & misogyny:madrassas.

    The children coming out of these madrassas are like a cancer spreading through the country killing of any sane,rational cells to be found in the country.

    These children are fed a steady diet of homophobia,the suppression of women,hate of anyone nonmuslim.

    They are not taught how to think,only to rattafy religious texts in arabic( a foreign language).Recommend

  • faraz saad
    Mar 10, 2011 - 11:00AM

    The madrassas are turning out lakhs of hatefilled,intolerant barbarians who then poison the rest of society with their sickening,depraved ideology.

    Madrassas are nothing but the hatcheries of future terrorists.These children are homophobic,think of themselves as superior to women & are highly intolerant of anyone who’s not muslim.Recommend

  • arif chandio
    Mar 10, 2011 - 11:03AM

    it should be made compulsory to teach about the separation of mosque & state in our schools from kindergarten.

    We are suffering the consequences of religion poking its nose in the affairs of the state in the form of religious terrorism everyday.Recommend

  • saqib afaq
    Mar 10, 2011 - 11:06AM

    Jinnah had created the “Republic of pakistan”.
    The religious barbarians then changed it to “ISLAMIC republic of pakistan” & this country has continued to deteriorate from that day onwards.Recommend

  • danish salim
    Mar 10, 2011 - 11:09AM

    our children need to be taught from the first day of school that Athiests,agnostics,hindus,christians,parsis have as much right to live & work in pakistan as the muslims do.They are just as much pakistanis as muslims are.Recommend

  • muhammad basit
    Mar 10, 2011 - 11:28AM

    include jinnah’s speech of 11th august into the curriculum of all shcools across pakistan.
    jinnah laid out his vision of what he wanted this country to be.He would have hung his head in shame if he saw how the religious barbarians had destroyed the country he created.
    jinnah created the “republic of pakistan”, the religious fascists then changed it to “islamic republic of pakistan” & everyone’s been suffering the consequences ever since.Recommend

  • Sajjad
    Mar 10, 2011 - 2:43PM

    Madrass are the that place where ours children read Holy Quran so plz dont take any stike action otherwise Allah give u PunishmentRecommend

  • Aristi
    Mar 10, 2011 - 3:02PM

    What to do now. Dont just cry over the spilled milk, think about the coming generations. We have to decide for once and all, whether the army (nuclear missiles) can better defend us or an educated population at large.Recommend

  • Rigel
    Mar 10, 2011 - 7:17PM

    @Sajjad: Madrass are the that place where ours children read Holy Quran so plz dont take any stike action otherwise Allah give u Punishment

    No Sir! they dont teach to read Quran, they teach to RECITE Quran, the very reason that most of the adult Pakistanis donot understand Quran.Recommend

  • Karim Khan
    Mar 10, 2011 - 10:42PM

    One thing teh government must stop doing is spending on madrassas as well as PhD scholarships. Both are eating the nation away.Recommend

  • Fighter
    Mar 10, 2011 - 10:58PM

    Yet in spite of limited resources Pakistan produces the best doctors, engineers and scientists that west survives upon. Every multinational company in US employs many Pakistanis and they are known for their handwork and sharp minds. If only the government would provide more resources and put right people to take us forward Pakistan could easily be the international hub of best minds in the world.Recommend

  • Aliya Abbasi
    Mar 11, 2011 - 12:52AM

    Keeping the generations uneducated is the most easiest ways to keep people suppressed and subjugated. The Pakistani politicians together with their military and mullah counterparts are responsible for this misery and havoc in our society. This is the time for the people of Pakistan to stand against them and speak for their rights and free basic education is one of these basic most important rights after food, shelter and survival. Million of rupees are being spent on the so-called defense and to deter the outside enemy when the enemy of hatred, poverty, illiteracy, and extremism are fed on the blood of people. We the people of Pakistan don’t need the missiles, tanks, nuclear weapons, ammunitions, wars and miseries. We are for peace, equality, justice and the right to education which differentiates “human” from animals. the “Educational Emergency” in Pakistan is the moment for policy makers and power-holders, to reconsider their priorities. Recommend

  • mohammad khan
    Mar 11, 2011 - 1:32AM

    We spend 1.5% of our budget on education and 50% of this amount is eaten up by the corrupt education dept by having schools which exist only on papers and the result of this corruption is the mass of illiterate population. Our country’s greatest asset is our human resource and future of our country is our children. Instead attending schools our childern are standing around garbage dumps trying to salvage some thing of value and we pass them by in our millions of rupees cars without blinking an eye. I have never seen such a disconnection between the haves and have nots. What could be bigger threat to our national security than this?Recommend

  • Rigel
    Mar 11, 2011 - 4:38AM


    Get out of your barbie world, for Pakistan on planet earth is totally different.Recommend

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