Education, what?

Not different is the status quo in the health arena

November 22, 2023


It is a constant that Pakistan has one of the poorest and incapable education systems in the region. Not only is the curriculum lopsided and outdated, but it is also irrelevant and does not cater to the basic understanding of pupils by virtue of their ethno-linguistic leanings. Likewise, more than six million children go out of schools every year, and around 26 million have no access to education. This amplifies the argument that no government has done anything substantial in the education sector, as 40 million children go to private schools and a class-based strata is created by default. Not to mention, the meritless higher education where only a few dozen PhDs are churned out from our alma maters, and that too merely in social sciences, as compared to hundreds and thousands in India, and elsewhere in the developing world. Not different is the status quo in the health arena, where population explosion at a fertility rate of 3.6 percent, the immunodeficiency syndrome affecting 40 percent women, and child mortality of 40/1000 have pushed us to the brink.

This is where a paradigm shift is needed in education and health. The Senate’s unanimous resolution to take urgent steps for promoting literacy among children is on the spot. One is not sure whether the plea graduates into a policy action or ends up in the dust-laden files at its secretariat, but it must be acted upon on a war footing as it pertains to the future of the nation. It is the fundamental right of every citizen to have access to quality education, and that must be free from gender bias and regional affiliation. This is what is known as social welfare and the basic amenities of life should be provided without any ado. But that is not the case as our pyramid of provision, budgeting and priority is elite captured, and anything that comes the public way is regarded as a glorified incentive. A socioeconomically equitable pattern of education, along with health and civic necessities, must be part and parcel of national life.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2023.

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