Twenty four million children out of school in Pakistan: An appalling and distressing situation indeed!
Like many grey areas that merit the special attention of those in saddles in this country, education to merits their undivided attention. Despite the fact that some attention has been paid to education by successive governments, particularly during the past decade or two, much remains to be done in this extremely vital area of socio-economic development. Undeniably, education holds the key to the success of any nation. No nation has ever or can attain its socio-economic goals without assigning education the highest place in its agenda for national development.
History remains a testimony to the fact that nations’ which have attained outstanding progress in almost every sphere of national life, and are regarded as highly developed nations of the world, have reached the pinnacle of success only because they had given and continue to give education its utmost attention and priority. According to a latest government report, a staggering 24 million Pakistani children are out of school. This unambiguously exposes the state of education in a country where around a quarter of the population is believed to be below16 years of age. According to the annual Pakistan Education Statistics report for 2014-2015, of the 50.8 million children aged five to 16 in the country, 47 per cent do not receive an education. One must acknowledge that the courage and candor with which a stark reality, vis-à-vis the state of education in the country, has been exposed in a government document is truly a rare example in Pakistan. The credit for this naturally goes to the incumbent government.
According to the report, Pakistan has not conducted a national census for 17 years now, but around two-thirds of the roughly 200 million populace of this country are believed to be below the age of 30. The report, released Thursday, February 25, 2016, and compiled using population projections and demographic analysis, put the number of school-age children at 50.8 million. Of the 24 million children who are not in school, more are girls — 12.8 million compared to 11.2 million boys, said the report, which also revealed that 69 percent of children enrolled at primary school level drop out by the fifth year. The report also highlights the lack of resources for education in Pakistan. More candidly the report unfolds the fact that around 29 per cent of government primary schools operate with just a single teacher. Eighteen percent have only one classroom, and nine percent do not even have a building, it says.
In spite of the extremely dismal scenario projected by the report under reference, it did have something positive to convey — the number of children out of school is around one million less than the previous year. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif recently took the onus of revamping and upgrading the Model Schools of the capital of the country-Islamabad on his own shoulders. Ms. Mariam Nawaz, a PML Nawaz leader and the illustrious daughter of the Honorable Prime Minister, is playing a pivotal role in pushing this important program through and helping her father attain this vital goal that he has set forth for himself and his government. One sincerely wishes that once this project of national importance is successfully implemented in Islamabad, endeavors will be made to replicate it across the country. There shouldn’t be any second thought on this extremely important matter of national significance.
M FAZAL ELAHI