Ignoring the future
This is not the only depressing report about the state on education in Pakistan. The Annual Status of Education Report-ASER 2015 is, however, the latest study that underlines the malaise with more startling statistics. Notwithstanding the ruling party’s claims education remains as neglected as it was under previous administrations. Despite a marginal increase in budgetary allocation several national and international commitments to bring out-of school children to school remain unfulfilled.
20 per cent of children between six and 16 are out-of-school across the country. The survey also shows that the remaining 80 per cent, who are enrolled in the same age bracket, are not learning much. For many living below poverty line education for children provides no guarantee for an assured income. Poor families living from hand to mouth often send their children for cattle grazing or working at brick kilns. In cities, small trades thrive on child labour. Children from poor background work at puncture shops, canteens and even in hazardous trades. Unless education is seen to be a step towards a fruitful career, it will fail to attract children from indigent families.
The funds allocated for education are not commensurate with the communities’ needs. In Pakistan it is the old choice between the guns and butter. The physical condition of government schools often discourages students. 16 per cent of surveyed public sector primary schools do not have drinking water facilities, while 48 per cent do not have toilets. In addition, 37 per cent of primary schools are reportedly functioning without boundary walls. As adviser to CM Balochistan has pointed out 1.6 million children, two thirds of them girls, are out of school in the province because of a dire shortage of schools and wherever these exist they lack facilities.
Pakistan has a large youthful population which can be turned into an asset by imparting good education and proper skills. With negligence on the part of the government the disgruntled section of the youth become tools in the hands of terrorists.