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  December 11, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty

 Education- The 1.3% Shareholder of our Future

By  Naina Qayyum

It is a pity to see a country, like Pakistan, with immense potential in terms of human capital, natural resources and cultural diversity, to be on the brink of failure.  The most obvious component of a successful formula for development, which Pakistan sadly does not possess, is a good array of leadership, a strong set of institutions for governance and a strong advocacy for democracy.

Democracy is easier to understand and achieve if a nation is aware of its rights and responsibilities towards its country and vice versa.  This awareness, along with the media, can best be created and maintained through a quality based education that complies with the challenges of the contemporary world.  Raising a four walled building and tagging it as school is not enough to boast about the existence of education.  

The 2012 budget of Pakistan allocated only 1.3% of itself for education. This is a clear indication that education is not a priority for a country with an illiterate population of 44 %. The negligence of this important sector can have amplifying effects on the social fabric of the society that falls true in the shape of riots in Karachi, sectarian violence in Baluchistan and Gilgit Baltistan, less educated leader and many others.

For those of us, who are fortunate enough to go to school, are told that absence of education is the root cause of many problems such as poverty, crimes of theft and rape, oppression of women, lack of awareness of individual and collective rights and responsibilities, corruption, incompetent politicians and a state doomed to failure. Who should be blamed for this stagnant literacy situation? The innocent children who are born in a country where their basic right, such as education, cannot be served? Or should it be the mighty people sitting in an air-conditioned parliament who hold the power to decide the fate of millions and allocate minuscule number of 1.3% of the national budget for education?

When Pakistan got its independence in 1947, there was only one university with 600 students. Now there are 143 universities, providing education to millions. Yet there is quantity but no quality. Huge disparities can be observed in the Pakistani education system. Islamabad has 97% educated population as compared to Kohulu district with only 20%. Adding to this problem is gender discrimination. There is a wide gap in literacy ratio between both genders where about 70% boys go to school dominating the figures over female literacy rate of41 %. The burden of school fees is heavy on many people’s pocket and this is exacerbated by the emergence of private schools and the marked difference of education standard among them and government schools.

It has become a question of fate whether a child goes to a private institution showered by parents’ money or sits in a frail government school building staring at a snoring teacher, rote learn from a black board and stare at the walls to substitute the sight of an absent teacher.

Sadly, even a positive change is not accepted in the education system. The promising Aga Khan Board that brought changes in the curriculum complies with modern standard at an affordable price. It showed marked improvement in the performance of both students and teachers who adopted it. But again the board was heavily criticized by short-vision fanatics who do not understand the importance of modern secular education for the development of Pakistan.

The state of education in Pakistan is grave and requires urgent attention. The later negative effects of an uneducated mass may not be apparent to our leaders who prioritize scooping up national wealth to educate their own children in world-renowned institutions. The bulk of 64 % Pakistani youth will soon enter career paths and will face the fast paced modern world with which they will not be able to conform. This will either accelerate the degeneration of Pakistan or will initiate a revolution pressing on a better education system, not based on a tiny 1.3% of the country’s budget, but a figure much more reasonable and promising than that.




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