Education Emergency | Editorial

Education Emergency | Editorial

Pakistan has too much on its plate to worry about the seemingly unimportant issue of education. So what if 26 million of its children remain out of school? Clearly, there are more pressing matters than a disturbingly low literacy rate (lowest in South Asia) and report after report ringing alarm bells over the dismal quality of education provided to 43 million who somehow manage to enter classrooms! The federal government’s decision to declare an education emergency for the next four years to spell an end to the gaping disparities and ensure that all Pakistani children could finally enjoy their birthright to education and a better future has failed to create much buzz in the mainstream media. That it is not difficult to understand why speaks to a national tragedy: why would the privileged classes be bothered about education, healthcare or even the survival of the masses?

In an ideal world, the announcement should have been followed by widespread interest and intense debates Education is widely recognized as a fundamental pillar for social and economic development and therefore, any government intervention should have been considered a crucial development. However, some of the burden of this crippling lack of a sense of urgency does lie on the shoulders of the ruling elite. Their attention to such a critical issue, which could equip the future workforce with the skills and the vision needed to find a pathway towards prosperity, has never progressed beyond lip service. May it be the unexplainable utility of Danish schools or the ill-planned hornet’s nest of a Single National Curriculum, government after government has done little to achieve the elusive goal of quality education.

If today, the Shahbaz government aims to tackle the longstanding issues of high dropout rates, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of quality teachers, he would have to look beyond temporary, knee-jerk measures and come up with sustainable, long-term reforms in the education sector. Of course, the most important next step should pertain to a higher budgetary allocation for education. Over the years, the education budget has kept on decreasing while many among the stakeholders openly argue for the reins to be given to the private sector once and for all. However, prioritizing education and ensuring transparency in decision-making could still become the ultimate deal-maker; garnering public trust and confidence in Islamabad’s efforts. *

Education Emergency | Editorial


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