Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan states: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law.” Despite this basic fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution, the recently released Global Monitoring Report by Education For All (EFA) paints a grim picture of Pakistan’s literacy rate. According to the EFA report, Pakistan ranks among nations like Niger and Mali, which remain “very far” from achieving their education targets by 2015.
From economic woes to power blues, from unemployment to rising poverty to militancy, Pakistan is already facing multiple crises as it is. But the biggest crisis, neglected by all governments is the education emergency. The government needs to understand that denying education or failing to ensure that it is provided to all is the biggest crime any country can commit against its own people. With 35 per cent of the population aged 15 or below, Pakistan’s youth bulge is estimated to be one of the world’s highest according to Unicef. If a large part of our youth remains uneducated, this country will face a crisis like none other. The biggest service that the government can provide to the people of this country would be to meet the goals set for our education sector. The importance of education cannot be stressed enough. While all political parties rightly prioritised education in their election manifestoes, neither the federal government nor the provincial governments have taken concrete measures to address this issue.
The government must increase the funding available to the education sector as lack of education will have a negative impact on the nation as a whole. Lack of education has led to a rise in intolerance in society. Over the years, we have also seen an increase in crime rate across the country due to lack of education. Education is the basic key to progress. If the state is serious about economic growth, it should invest in the education sector to get the desired results.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2014.