The idea that education is a priority of the government has been reduced to mere sloganeering. The government needs to show seriousness in this regard by increasing the percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) spent on education sector. This was the consensus among the panelists at a seminar titled Education is the Solution to the Challenges of Pakistan’s Future at Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Auditorium on Monday.
Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) regional head Salman Abid told participants that under the Millennium Development Goals, Pakistan had committed to attain 88 per cent literacy rate.
“Currently, the literacy rate is at 57.4 per cent. The government had promised to spend at least 4 per cent of the GDP on education but it actually spends 2.09 per cent of the GDP on education.”
He said Article 25-A of the Constitution said that the state must provide free education.“Strangely, the state is privatising education,” he said.
He said it was clear that the government was focusing on infrastructure development.
“New roads and bridges are being built. Even in education sector, money is being spent on building boundary walls and rooms rather than improving the quality of education. He said poverty was directly linked to education. .
MPA Nosheen Hamid said population growth was a serious challenge for the country.
“Take the example of Malaysia, another Muslim country. It made rapid progress by increasing its literacy rate,” she said.
She said maternal mortality rate was a huge problem that could be tackled by improving education and awareness.
MPA Parween Akhtar, Anjuman Astatza’s Professor Nadeem Ahmad Ashrafi and Iram Hasan also spoke.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2015.