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International Literacy Day

Lack of proper educational facilities in our schools is one of the most important reasons for the educational backwardness in Pakistan.

Pakistan has the world’s second highest number of non-school-going children. There has been 254 per cent increase in the country’s literacy rate since its independence, but still, 51 million adults living here do not know how to read and write. This grim situation demands emergency measures for the progress of educational sector in the country, but perhaps, this is not being done, because the existing facts are telling an entirely different story about the state of education in the country.

It is an all-admitted fact that education plays a pivotal role in economic progress and social welfare. Investment in education leads to the reduction of poverty, improvement in health and increase in the pace of economic growth. Besides this, access to education increases the level of political awareness and assists in balancing political and economic progress. For this very reason, the educational sector of every important country strongly emphasizes on encouraging the maximum number of children to go to school and facilitating them to continue their education. International Literacy Day is observed on September 8 each year, to highlight the need for achieving this objective.

Universal Primary Education basically depends upon the success of the country’s policy regarding adult education. Only educated parents can realize the significance of education and send their children to schools and will not allow their children to drop out of schools.
Since its independence, Pakistan has made a considerable headway in the field of education. From 1951 to 2010-11, literacy rate in the country rose by 254 per cent. During this period, the literacy rate increased from 16.40 per cent to 58 per cent. But even then, situation in the country is not so encouraging with reference to the achievement of 2015 Millennium development Goals, because Pakistan has the world’s second highest number of non-school-going children and the world’s third highest number of illiterate adults. According to the Fact Sheet issued by UNESCO in June 2012, 5.125 million children living in Pakistan did not go to school till the year 2010. They were 8.40 per cent of the total number of non-school-going children in the world. In the same way, according to UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2011, 51 million adults living in Pakistan were illiterate between 2005 and 2008. It means that during this period, 6.40 per cent of the world’s total number of adults lived in Pakistan.

This alarming situation requires urgent measures to improve the condition of educational sector in the country, but perhaps, this is not being done, because the existing facts are telling a bitter story about the state of education in the country. Each year, 60 per cent girls and 72 per cent boys belonging to the school going age group, get admission in primary schools in Pakistan. But according to the UNICEF’s State of the World Children Report 2012, 60 per cent of the children who get admission in primary schools in Pakistan are able to reach class five. 29 per cent girls and 36 per cent boys belonging to the secondary school going age group, get admission in secondary schools in Pakistan. According to the Pakistan Education Statistics Report 2010-11 issued by the National Education Management Information System, between 2005-06 and 2010-11, the number of boys getting admission in primary schools decreased by 3.74 per cent. But during the same period, the number of girls getting admission in primary schools increased by 0.83 per cent. It is encouraging to note that the number of school going girls in the country is increasing. However, the decrease in the number of primary school going boys and the slight increase in the number of primary school going girls cannot be so helpful in achieving the target of Universal Primary Education by the year 2015.

The extremely meager amount of money allocated for the educational sector is another important reason for the deplorable state of education in Pakistan.
Universal Primary Education basically depends upon the success of the country’s policy regarding adult education. Only educated parents can realize the significance of education and send their children to schools and will not allow their children to drop out of schools. In this connection, the situation in Pakistan is that according to the UNDP’s Human Development Report 2011, literacy rate among adults (who are 15 years old above) was 55.5 per cent. In Pakistan, literacy rate is measured with reference to the people who are ten years old and above. Seen in this context literacy rate in Pakistan was 58 per cent in 2010-11. With reference to the adult literacy rate, Pakistan is 127th among the 144 countries, whose statistics are available. According to the report of Pakistan’s National Education Management Information System 2011, in Pakistan, there are 270825 educational institutions, having 50,926661 students, who are being taught by 1,507100 teachers. 71.86 per cent of Pakistan’s educational institutions, 65 per cent of its students and 57.88 per cent of its teachers are working under public sector. 57.38 per cent of the boys and 42.62 per cent of the girls are getting education in the country’s educational institutions. On an average, 27.15 students of Pakistan have got one teacher, 151.11 students have got one educational institution and one educational institution has an average of 5.66 teachers.

Lack of proper educational facilities in our schools is one of the most important reasons for the educational backwardness in Pakistan. According to the statistics provided by the National Education Management Information System, 9.24 per cent of the primary-secondary schools working in the public sector have got no building. 48.59 per cent schools are without electricity. 26.16 per cent schools have got no drinking water for the students and there is no toilet in 27.56 per cent schools. Besides this, 29.30 per cent schools have no boundary wall and 39.59 per cent public schools are in need of repair. The educational backwardness of Pakistan can be further illustrated by the fact that 11.67 per cent of its primary-secondary schools working under the public sector consist of only one classroom and 38.45 per cent schools have got only two classrooms. In addition to this, 4.98 per cent schools in the country are non-functional and are known as ghost schools. They get financial benefits from the budget but their educational outcome is zero. The extremely meager amount of money allocated for the educational sector is another important reason for the deplorable state of education in Pakistan. In 2010-11, 1.8 per cent of the country’s total GDP was spent on education. In 2001-02, it was 1.5 per cent of GDP. Thus, there has been a slight increase in the amount of money spent on education, but even then, it is far less than 4 per cent of the GDP, recommended by international experts for the promotion of education. The increasing level of poverty is another major cause for the country’s educational backwardness. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Half of Pakistan’s children belonging to poor families, between the ages of 7 and 16 years, do not go to schools. Five per cent of the children belonging to rich families also remain away from schools. In 2011, UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report presented an EFA Development Index for measuring the progress in connection with the achievement of the goals set for Education For All. According to this index, Pakistan stood at #119 among the 127 countries of the world, whose statistics were available. The condition of some other South Asian countries was better than that of Pakistan. The Ranking of these South Asian countries in accordance with this index is as follows: Maldives 54, Bhutan 101, India 107, and Bangladesh 112.

International experts have given five reasons to show the importance of education. Firstly, education reduces poverty and speeds up economic growth. Research has proved that each year of additional education becomes the cause of ten per cent increase in individual income. For this reason, it is of utmost importance to educate the people in order to bring them out of the quagmire of poverty. Besides this, education can boost economic growth. One study of 50 countries between 1960 and 2000 found that an additional year of schooling lifted GDP by 0.37 per cent annually.

Secondly, experts are of the view that educated mothers increase the chances of better nutrition and survival of their children. Twenty-six per cent children of the world, who are at the age of 5 or below, are shorter than the other children of their age. In the same way, 14 per cent children are underweighted at the time of their birth. For this reason, if mothers are educated, there are fewer chances of their children being underweighted or having shorter stature. Every additional year of education of mothers, reduces the chances of the death of their children by seven to nine per cent.

Thirdly, experts have stated that education is helpful in combating HIV AIDS and other diseases.
Fourthly, education is helpful in promoting gender equality and equity. The reason is that educated girls play a positive role in ensuring gender equality.

Fifthly, education is essential and highly significant, because it is instrumental in promoting democratic values and strengthening the process of positive participation in social and public activities. International research has proved that educated voters, even if their education is up to the primary level, are 1.5 per cent more supportive of democracy than illiterate voters. In the same way, those who have received secondary education are three times more enthusiastic supporters of democracy than illiterate voters.

These facts clearly reveal the importance of education for individuals as well as nations.

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