There is a national portfolio of emergencies that all cry out for resolution. Few have the profound and long-term detrimental effect on our collective futures like the education emergency. There are no surprises in the Annual Status of Education Report-2013 issued on January 17. The survey tells us grim truths. In rural areas, 21 per cent of children are out of school compared to eight per cent in urban areas and the woeful state of English teaching is told by the fact that only 43 per cent of children at the class five level could read an English text at a reading level equivalent to class two. Previous equally well researched reports have shown that the teachers who teach English have poor fluency in the language, and have received little or no training despite the requirement that they teach a foreign language. It is not only English that suffers, so do the national languages. Only 50 per cent of children in class five could fluently read a text in Urdu, Pashto or Sindhi.
Across the country, there are schools without toilets or washing facilities and many have no boundary walls. Teacher attendance is around 86 per cent in rural areas and 77 per cent in urban areas (a small improvement) and for the first time, boys are outperforming girls — a development as yet imperfectly understood. Our education system is a serial disaster and the devolution of budgets to provincial education departments that lack the capacity to effectively spend them has added to the scale of the problem. There is no integrated national education policy, nor a unified standard for teacher training. Such training resources as there are fall far below capacity in terms of the national need. None of this is ‘new news’, merely a repeat iteration of the elephant in the education lounge. Unless Pakistan effectively addresses the education emergency in the next 10 years, it is going to forever trail behind its neighbours and competitors. The education emergency touches everybody and failure to solve it pegs our population as semi-literate mediocrities. We can do better than that.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2014.
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@Hari Om: It's pathetic comment by you hari Om . What's superior about India and what's inferior about Pakistan ? Both are two sides of the same coin and coin is illiteracy , corruption and third grade politicians . The day when we change this coin both countries (common people) will be on the path to the development . I don't have to shout to make you aware (Hari Om ) that I'm Indian .
Problem can be easily solved by applying halal Islamic solution. There is no need for un-Islamic secular and foreign education. Muslims must pay heed to words of KpK Minister Sirajul Haq that foreign education is “promoting anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan culture to their students” and that all they are taught is to “sing, dance and elope with girls”. Pakistan Government should give education budget to pure and pious ulema to spend on Madrassah’s that will impart quality education. This will solve all problems. Salaams.
The inevitable consequence of Pakistan’s obsession for boxing above her weight class and nurturing an outsize military in order to seek military parity with India is the stunted development of education besides a whole lot of other social sectors. There is after all truth in the old Guns or Butter adage and Pakistan’s pursuit of being the “Sole Islamic Nuclear Power” will as former Prime Minister Z.A. Bhutto put it entail Pakistan necessarily figuratively “Eating Grass”.
Given what I have said above, till such time as Pakistan accepts the immutable reality that she is inferior to India, education and other sectors will remain stunted.
The solution thus is rather straight forward, but will Pakistan make the rational choice and junk braggadocio?
I agree with the Editorial by ET, thanks for that. We have emergency and catastrophe not in just education but also in healthcare, law and order, nutrition and hunger to name a few. A country with the tiny enonomy of Pakistan cannot continue to afford such a huge army with max perks in the world, active nuclear and drone programs and all expensive war toys. Even the UK, France, Germany, Japan, and other huge economies of the world cannot afford all these luxuries while taking care of their citizens. We have chosen to feed grass to civilians.
Sadly until the mullification of the educational system in Pakistan is dealt with in a mature and wise way nothing of long-term benefit will happen