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Education in Rural Pakistan

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EDUCATION IN RURAL PAKISTAN

SUMMARY:

The lack of education in the rural areas of the country is an issue that needs immediate attention. For the development of a country it is necessary that its population is educated but the facts show that Pakistan lags in this sector. Learning levels of students across the rural areas of the country have tumbled. The literacy rate is 74 percent in urban Pakistan and 49 percent in rural areas. A rural child is 32% less likely to go to school and 50 % more likely to be an illiterate. Pakistan is among the developing countries which spend less than 3 percent of their budget on Education. The government cannot reform and update outdated syllabi of educational institutions, increase faculty capacities and build more learning centers with this insufficient budgetary allocation to education. Additionally, the government has been unable to make a mechanism for the check and balance of the infrastructural facilities, teaching staff and the provision of educational material. Feudalism and education are anathema to each other. Feudal lords control the infrastructure and the population of their areas. In rural areas of Sindh there are many primary schools which are being used either as ‘autaqs’ or as cattle pens for the last many years by sardars, waderas and the land mafia (Newspaper, 2011). These people never want the children of a common man to get education as it might make them vulnerable. They feel that if a poor man gets education, he would know his rights and be able to defy the feudal lords (Newspaper, 2011). Changes can be made to improve the situation but it requires strict action from the government and compliance to the policies. There is an immediate need to appoint a supervisory team comprising at least one judge, one academic and one media person to keep a check on the campaign and to ensure the implementation of the education reforms. There should be a body similar to OFSTED (UK) model government body which should be responsible for overlooking the reforming process in the rural areas, ensuring transparency and maintaining standards. This would help in increasing enrollment, educating the poor class and making them aware of their basic rights which would eventually lead them to vote for the person who is in reality there to help them instead of some feudal lord who uses the poor population for personal gains.

POLICY BRIEF:

Education is vital in the establishment of a human capital. It does not only increase productivity and efficiency but also helps in producing skilled manpower that can drive the economy towards stability. Education plays a role in reducing poverty and aids in social development, but a poorly structured education system causes slow growth in the country. Pakistan’s education sector is an example of a low-quality system. The low enrolment rates at the primary level, wide disparities between regions and gender, lack of trained teachers, deficiency of proper teaching materials and poor physical infrastructure of schools indicate the deficient performance of this sector.

The lack of education in the rural areas of the country is an issue that needs immediate attention. For the development of a country it is necessary that its population is educated but the figures from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) show the alarming status of education enrollment in the country. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey shows many 5-16 years of age children are still out of schools. The Balochistan and Sindh provinces have shown most appalling out-of-school students’ ratio at 33.8 per cent and 29.1 per cent, respectively. In Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan, the ratio of out-of-school children stands as high as 15.7 per cent each, and 14 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Malik, 2014).

A major issue that needs to be immediately addressed is the rural-urban difference in the education sector. The literacy rate is 74 percent in urban Pakistan and 49 percent in rural areas. A rural child is 32% less likely to go to school and 50 % more likely to be an illiterate.

Learning levels of students across the rural areas of the country have tumbled. Almost 57 per cent Grade 5 students cannot read Grade 2 English sentences and cannot do two-digit division. More alarmingly almost half of such students have been found unable to read simple Class-II level story text in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto. Sindh has shown worst students’ learning outcomes, enrolment as well as school facilities, while Punjab tops among the provinces followed by Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan in terms of students’ learning outcomes, enrolment and school infrastructure, reveals Pakistan’s largest citizen-led and household-based Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Survey 2013.

It is necessary to address the education issue in rural Pakistan as a major portion of the population lives in the rural areas. Education is important for collective development of a society and a state. It provides the child with basic insight to a new world and provides him with the necessary tools to proceed through various fields of life. Currently there is a lack of awareness in the rural areas. People are unaware about their basic rights. They are living in the worst of conditions, accepting them as their fate. The poverty level in rural Pakistan is much higher than the level in urban areas. There is a major gap in the economic standing of people, with an upper class which includes the feudal lords and land lords, and the lower class who works for the former. People in the rural areas are unaware about the importance of education. It is necessary to create awareness and identify the reasons for the lack of interest in education and the low enrollment in rural Pakistan.

The lack of education in rural Pakistan can be blamed on two interlinked factors. These factors are the neglect by the government and the involvement of feudal lords in the decision-making process.

The Pakistani government has been neglecting the education sector for years. This dismal picture of the education sector in the country is the direct consequence of the upside-down priorities of our rulers, who have failed to provide the resources required for high quality education to our children. It is also partially the result of the excessive demands of the defense sector on the government’s budget (Husain, 2013). Pakistan is among the developing countries which spend less than 3 percent of their budget on Education. According to the norm laid down by the UNESCO, a country must spend at least 4 percent of GNP on education. The Pakistan Economic Survey for 2011-12 reveals that Pakistan has never reached even close to this figure. During 1980s when the country was ruled mostly

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