It is unfortunate that since gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan has witnessed seven national education policies, eight five-year plans, about half a dozen other education schemes and nothing to show for it. One can conclude it as the failure of the successive governments. According to the inclusion of Article 25A in the Constitution, which calls on the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged five-16 years in such manner as may be determined by law, there has not been any progress on this provision and provinces have yet to frame the legislation to implement it.
Pakistan is facing tremendous challenges in the education sector with 24 million children not attending schools at all. The official record shows that this figure has remained mostly unchanged since 2005 but according to recent available data, the number of out-of-school children has reduced from last year’s figure of 24 million to 22.6 million.
Statistics show a dramatic picture of our education system with more than 44 per cent of children between five and 16 out of school and forced to do child labour. Balochistan is home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children followed by Fata. Improving school enrolment lies at the forefront of Pakistan’s battle to improve education.
These bitter facts were revealed in the Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 launched by the National Education Management Information System — a subsidiary of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training.
I, therefore, appeal to the government and responsible institutes calling for the imposition of a real education emergency. Instead of focusing on infrastructural development, such as roads, the government should focus on health and education. Nations cannot progress just on infrastructure; education makes the change and it is the need of hour.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2017.
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