Mixed blessings

The longer Pakistan fails in the education sector, the bleaker our collective futures will be.


Editorial June 02, 2014
Over the next 15 years, Islamabad is going to need 85 new schools, 4,072 new classrooms and 4,568 additional teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

In a country with an expanding population it stands to reason that Pakistan is always going to need to build new schools. In the case of Islamabad there is a precise indication of just how many are going to be needed. Over the next 15 years, Islamabad is going to need 85 new schools, 4,072 new classrooms and 4,568 additional teachers in primary, middle and secondary schools. On that basis alone, there should be a year-on-year budgetary expansion to keep pace with demand, but once again education is the Cinderella component of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in the coming year. The Capital Administration and Development Division had submitted a proposal for four million rupees for the construction of eight new schools, but was only granted Rs150 million by the Planning Commission.

With the declaration of free education for all as a constitutional right, enrolments are on the rise. Families want their children to go to school. Yet evening shifts are soon to be abolished — cutting back the number of students schools can educate — and there are not going to be enough new schools to absorb the burgeoning need to make education for all a reality. Schools in the capital are already dilapidated for want of maintenance — there are 55 of them that either have no boundary wall or are in need of repair — and will deteriorate further. Ironically, the allocation for the 2014-15 financial year is an increase over that of the previous year, and is going to see provision of computer and science laboratories at schools, as well as the establishment of a home economics college — but this is not a holistic solution to the education problem.

Welcome as the funding is, it highlights the lack of joined-up thinking in the education sector generally, where there is a sense of both drift and continuing under-investment. The longer Pakistan fails in the education sector, the bleaker our collective futures, and development runs into the buffers of ignorance. There really is an education emergency. Treat it as such.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 3rd, 2014.

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COMMENTS (1)

Toticalling | 7 years ago | Reply

I agree with your views, but the picture above is disturbing. When even children cover their heads, it is obvious where their priorities lie. And that is not education but faith.

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