Pictures are from an education forum held by Umair with Alif Ailaan and Kafka Welfare Organization at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in March. The purpose of the forum was to gather all education stakeholders on one platform to highlight the issues of education and discuss its solutions.
According to Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, free and compulsory education is the fundamental right of every Pakistani child aged five to 16.
According to a report by education campaign Alif Ailaan, 25 million children between five and 16 are still out of school. Of them, 13.7 million are girls and 11.4 million are boys. The gender inequality issue is biggest in Fata.
We are living in 2015 and still children are not able to get their fundamental constitutional right.
The main reasons for children being out of school are:
- Lack of quality in education
- Poor school infrastructure
- Lack of basic facilities in schools (like electricity, washrooms, benches, clean water, no boundary walls and now security issue)
- Lack of schools, lack of capacity in existing schools, lack of teachers
- Budget issues (low education budget, delay in available budget)
The solution is to make education the priority of individuals and the country. Without accepting education as a priority, we cannot develop quality education and the literacy rate in Pakistan. The secret of progress in all developed nations is education. The government of Pakistan needs to focus on education with real concern instead of just pretending.
To deal with poverty, first and foremost, government needs to provide entrepreneurship and technical skills to children in schools. To solve quality issues they need to increase the education budgets greatly. Secondly, government needs to make our system flexible to release funding on time to get benefits from the budget.
In the last budget, the government of Punjab increased the budget for education to 4% of GDP. But what is the benefit if the allocated budget will not be spent on education in the annual time frame? The last spent budget was 2.09%.
A big amount of education budget is spent on the salaries of teachers and staff, which is a hurdle in the development of quality of education. There should be enough budget for the development of education separate from salaries.
From 25 million out-of-school children Fata has 3%, Baluchistan has 7%, Punjab has 52%, Sindh has 25%, Islamabad has 0.2%, Azad Kashmir has 2%, KPK has 10% and Gilgit Baltistan has 1%. 70% of out-of-school children haven’t visited school once in their lives. Like other laws, article 25-A is formed but its implementation is still in question.
Due to dropout and population growth, Pakistan’s literacy rate is not increasing and is just 57.4%. The reasons for school droput are lack of quality, financial problems, lack of schools and cultural barriers.
We seriously need to recognise the importance of education and play our role, as education is the only solution to end extremism and control population growth -these are our big issues.