Madrassah Education in Pakistan
Mainstreaming and reform is the way forward
Muhammad Atif Sheikh
International Literacy Day is observed around the world on 8th September every year. The basic purpose behind observing this day, on the one hand, is to reiterate the strong resolve to make all-out efforts to promote education while also analyzing, on the other, the efforts made in the past and successes and failures they met with. Since independence, almost all successive governments have made tall promises for the promotion of education but the largely proved hollow as our policymakers fail to take into consideration the ground realities while drawing up policies. They hardly learn from mistakes made in the past and keep on clinging with old methods. This flawed attitude has resulted in making Pakistan the country with the highest number of out-of-school children and adolescents. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, in 2017, nearly 22.84 million children of school-going age at middle, high and higher secondary level were out of school whereas this number of children falling in primary school age bracket was 5.324 million – the biggest number in the world. The world body found that 40.8 percent of children between the age of five and 16 have never gone to school – 4th worst ratio in the world. Similarly, Pakistan is the 16th largest country in terms of children discontinuing their education as 22.7 percent of children enrolled at primary schools do not complete this level of education.
The figures quoted above have been prepared by an international organization. If analyse them in the light of the official statistics, although they seem closer to reality, yet they paint a bleak picture of the prevailing state of affairs. For instance, as per “Pakistan Education Statistics 2016 -17,” (hereinafter PES) an annual publication of National Education Management Information System of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, 22.84 million children between the ages of 5 and 16 years are out of school. Gender-wise, more girls are out of school than the boys. In the primary to the higher secondary school level, 49 per cent of the population or 12.16 million children do not go to schools. By comparison, 40 per cent of the boys, around 10.68 million boys, do not go to school. The report highlights that the worst situation is in Balochistan whose 70 percent child population falling in this age group is not in classrooms – 78% of girls and 64% of boys.
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