Pak­istan lit­er­acy rate de­plorably low

The Financial Daily - - NATIONAL -

Pak­istan with­stands the bur­den of one of the most il­lit­er­ate coun­tries of Asia. About half of the male pop­u­la­tion is il­lit­er­ate and two third of the fe­male pop­u­la­tion can­not even write their names.

Pak­istan with its 58.7 per­cent lit­er­acy rate is even lower than Nepal and Bangladesh, which has lit­er­acy, rates of 64.7 and 61.5 per­cent re­spec­tively.

Coun­tries like the Mal­dives and Sri Lanka have achieved far more im­pres­sive re­sults given that above 90 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in both these coun­tries is lit­er­ate.

In­dia has a 61 per­cent lit­er­acy rate, de­spite its enor­mous pop­u­la­tion.

Poverty is the big­gest dis­ad­van­tage and the largest re­sis­tance in the de­vel­op­ment of a coun­try. Over half of Pakistanis live be­low the poverty line.

The feu­dal sys­tem is a big ob­sta­cle in the way of uni­ver­sal lit­er­acy.

Pak­istan counts among those 12 coun­tries of the world which spend less than 2.4 per­cent of the GDP on ed­u­ca­tion, whereas China spends 2.82 per­cent, In­dia 3.5 per­cent and the US, Ja­pan, the UK and Italy more than 5 per­cent of GDP on ed­u­ca­tion.

The Shah in­vested a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of his coun­try's oil rev­enues to im­prove ed­u­ca­tion, health care and in­fra­struc­ture. Iran's ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing in­creased 1800 per­cent dur­ing the Shah's rule.

There are many rea­sons for the low lit­er­acy rate in Pak­istan like poverty, pop­u­la­tion ex­pan­sion, feu­dal lords, low al­lo­ca­tions, male-dom­i­nated so­ci­ety and lack of school in ru­ral ar­eas.

Although lit­er­acy in Pak­istan has grown by about 13 per­cent dur­ing Pres­i­dent Mush­sar­raf's rule to about 56 per­cent, it still re­mains de­plorably low when com­pared to its neigh­bors.

Pakistanis now spend more time in schools and col­leges and grad­u­ate at a higher rate than their In­dian coun­ter­parts in 15+ age group, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on ed­u­ca­tional achieve­ment by Har­vard Uni­ver­sity re­searchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee.

The Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion in Pak­istan has spent a lot of money to im­prove the aca­demic cre­den­tials of fac­ulty across the coun­try.

Pak­istan is at least 50 years be­hind in its pri­mary and 60 years be­hind in its sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion tar­gets, ac­cord­ing to the UN Global Ed­u­ca­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Re­port, 2016.

The re­port was re­leased by United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UN­ESCO) on Tues­day.

The tar­get world lead­ers set for all chil­dren to have at least a pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion by 2030 will likely be missed if cur­rent trends are to con­tinue, the UN­ESCO re­port warned.

The re­port fur­ther said chronic un­der­fund­ing in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor is a cru­cial fac­tor de­ter­ring na­tions from achiev­ing the tar­get.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the lit­er­acy rate of males in ru­ral ar­eas from the low- in­come bracket in Pak­istan is 64 per­cent, com­pared to 14 per­cent for their fe­male coun­ter­parts.

The re­port fur­ther said in Pak­istan, only about 10 per­cent of poor chil­dren com­pleted lower sec­ondary school, com­pared to 75 per­cent of rich chil­dren in 2014.

Pak­istan is at least 50 years be­hind in its pri­mary and 60 years be­hind in its sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion tar­gets.

UN­ESCO re­port warns

The tar­get world lead­ers set for all chil­dren to have at least a pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion by 2030 will likely be missed if cur­rent trends are to con­tinue, the UN­ESCO re­port warned.

The re­port fur­ther said chronic un­der­fund­ing in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor is a cru­cial fac­tor de­ter­ring na­tions from achiev­ing the tar­get.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the lit­er­acy rate of males in ru­ral ar­eas from the low­in­come bracket in Pak­istan is 64 per­cent, com­pared to 14 per cent for their fe­male coun­ter­parts.

The re­port fur­ther said in Pak­istan, only about 10 per­cent of poor chil­dren com­pleted lower sec­ondary school, com­pared to 75 per cent of rich chil­dren in 2014.

Bangladesh

Ac­cord­ing to data from the UN­ESCO In­sti­tute for Sta­tis­tics (UIS), the lit­er­acy rate in Bangladesh has shot up re­mark­ably over the last 10 years, reach­ing an all-time high of 72.76 per­cent in 2016.

The fig­ure marks a 26.1 per­cent in­crease from 2007, when the lit­er­acy rate was a mere 46.66 per­cent.

The lit­er­acy rate for fe­males in the year was 43.74 per­cent, while that for males was 49.83 per­cent.

Con­versely, the lit­er­acy rate for males in 2016 was 75.62 per­cent, while that for fe­males was 69.90 per­cent.

The data also re­vealed that the num­ber of ed­u­cated young males and fe­males rose dra­mat­i­cally over the past 10 years.

Phe­nom­e­nal rise in lit­er­acy rate is one of the ma­jor fac­tors that the Com­mit­tee for De­vel­op­ment Pol­icy (CDP) of the United Na­tions con­sid­ered when declar­ing Bangladesh's el­i­gi­bil­ity for grad­u­at­ing from Least De­vel­oped Coun­try (LDC) sta­tus.

The UIS data said Bangladesh is now ahead of In­dia (69.30 per­cent), Nepal (59.63 per­cent), Bhutan (57.03 per­cent) and Pak­istan (56.98 per­cent) in the global lit­er­acy rate in­dex.

UN­ESCO at­trib­uted the suc­cess to the Bangladesh govern­ment's poli­cies and fis­cal sup­port for the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

On av­er­age, the govern­ment dis­trib­utes 354.6 mil­lion text­books to stu­dents in Bangladesh ev­ery year.

About 3.8 mil­lion stu­dents from the 6th grade to un­der­grad­u­ate level are pro­vided with stipends and other forms of as­sis­tance at a cost of Tk675 crore

In­dia

Dur­ing a re­cently held ed­u­ca­tion event, Javadekar HRD Min­is­ter said that In­dia would achieve 100 per cent lit­er­acy rate within the next five years.

There was a lit­er­acy rate of 18 per­cent in the post in­de­pen­dence era. To­day it has gone up to 80 per­cent. Within next five years, it will be 100 per cent.

"Our pri­or­ity is to im­prove the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. The pur­pose of ed­u­ca­tion is not just em­ploy­ment but it is im­por­tant to be­come good hu­man be­ing," Javadekar added in re­cent IANS re­port.

Asia Uni­ver­sity Rank­ings 2016:

In­dia leads in South Asia, but its neigh­bours are clos­ing the gap.

Pak­istan's and Bangladesh's in­sti­tu­tions are hot on the heels of their re­gional ri­val, but in­vest­ment in higher ed­u­ca­tion re­mains an is­sue.

In­dia is the strong­est South Asian na­tion in the rank­ings. It is the only coun­try in the re­gion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the top 100 (eight) and boasts 16 uni­ver­si­ties over­all, while its neigh­bours Pak­istan and Bangladesh have just three in­sti­tu­tions be­tween them in the bot­tom half of the ta­ble.

The in­sti­tu­tion has "top-rate re­search" in the nat­u­ral and bi­o­log­i­cal sci­ences and its schol­ars pub­lish in lead­ing aca­demic jour­nals across the globe.

The qual­ity of the re­search be­ing con­ducted at the uni­ver­sity is one of our big­gest strengths.

Top uni­ver­si­ties in South Asia

Coun­try 2016 Asia Rank

1 In­dian In­sti­tute of Science

In­dia 27

2 In­dian In­sti­tute

Bom­bay In­dia 43

3 In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Kharag­pur In­dia 51

4 In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Delhi In­dia 60

5 In­dian In­sti­tute

Madras In­dia 62

6 In­dian In­sti­tute

Roor­kee In­dia 65

7 In­dian In­sti­tute

Guwa­hatiIn­dia 80

8 Ja­davpur Uni­ver­sity

84

9 In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Kan­pur In­dia 101-110

10 Quaid-i-Azam Uni­ver­sity

Pak­istan 101-110

Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of Sci­ences and Tech­nol­ogy Pak­istan 121-130

13 Uni­ver­sity of Cal­cutta In­dia 141-150

14 Sav­it­ribai Phule Pune Uni­ver­sity In­dia 141-150

15 Ali­garh Mus­lim Uni­ver­sity

In­dia 151-160

16 Uni­ver­sity of Delhi

161-170

17 Am­rita Uni­ver­sity

181-190

18 Birla In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Science, Pi­lani In­dia 191-200

19 Uni­ver­sity of Dhaka Bangladesh 191-200

Politi­ciza­tion in ed­u­ca­tion

Pak­istan had an ex­cel­lent start in the 2000s, with sig­nif­i­cant re­forms and higher lev­els of fund­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis of the past few years has also af­fected the higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor neg­a­tively.

On Bangladesh, the coun­try has not in­vested the lev­els of re­sources needed for com­pet­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, not to men­tion the high level of politi­ciza­tion of its pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties.

Need to "de­politi­cize the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor

The Bri­tish Coun­cil's South Asia re­gional man­ager for higher and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion agrees that South Asian uni­ver­si­ties need to "de­politi­cize the sec­tor while rais­ing stan­dards of pro­vi­sion and qual­ity as­sur­ance mech­a­nisms".

Need to in­vest greater amounts of fund­ing into re­search

Govern­ments and in­dus­try in the re­gion need to in­vest greater amounts of fund­ing into re­search, not­ing that "while re­search ca­pac­ity has been in­creas­ing, the pro­por­tion of South Asia's re­search out­put com­pared with the rest of the world is ex­tremely low".

of Tech­nol­ogy

of Tech­nol­ogy

of Tech­nol­ogy

of Tech­nol­ogy

In­dia

In­dia

In­dia

"In 2013, China pro­duced 71,003 doc­u­ments with in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions, com­pared to In­dia with 17,484, Pak­istan with 4,278, and Bangladesh with 1,566.

More coun­tries from out­side the re­gion are look­ing to col­lab­o­rate on re­search with South Asian uni­ver­si­ties; just 2.2 per­cent of all in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions in­volve coun­tries within the re­gion.

The dead­line on uni­ver­sal ed­u­ca­tion was agreed as part of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) an am­bi­tious plan to end poverty, hunger, ad­vance equal­ity and pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to UN­ESCO, ed­u­ca­tion is key to ev­ery as­pect of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, in­clud­ing achiev­ing in­creased pros­per­ity, bet­ter health and greater gen­der equal­ity as well as bring­ing vi­o­lence un­der con­trol.

Achiev­ing uni­ver­sal up­per sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion by 2030 in eco­nom­i­cally chal­lenged coun­tries could lift 60 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty by 2050, the re­port fur­ther ar­gued.

GEM Re­port

The GEM re­port said con­flict is one of the great­est ob­sta­cles in mak­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion com­mon, keep­ing over 36 mil­lion chil­dren out of school.

Around 263 mil­lion chil­dren are cur­rently out of school glob­ally, it said, adding al­most 30 per­cent of chil­dren from the poor­est house­holds in un­der­de­vel­oped coun­tries have never been to school.

New Global Ed­u­ca­tion Mon­i­tor­ing (GEM) Re­port

The new Global Ed­u­ca­tion Mon­i­tor­ing (GEM) Re­port by UN­ESCO shows the po­ten­tial for ed­u­ca­tion to pro­pel progress to­wards all global goals out­lined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment (SDGs).

It also shows that ed­u­ca­tion needs a ma­jor trans­for­ma­tion to ful­fill that po­ten­tial and meet the cur­rent chal­lenges fac­ing hu­man­ity and the planet.

There is an ur­gent need for greater head­way in ed­u­ca­tion. On cur­rent trends, the world will achieve uni­ver­sal pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion in 2042, uni­ver­sal lower sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in 2059 and uni­ver­sal up­per sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in 2084. This means the world would be half a cen­tury late for the 2030 SDG dead­line.

The Re­port, Ed­u­ca­tion for peo­ple and planet, shows the need for ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems to step up at­ten­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

While in the ma­jor­ity of coun­tries, ed­u­ca­tion is the best in­di­ca­tor of cli­mate change aware­ness, half of coun­tries' cur­ric­ula world­wide do not ex­plic­itly men­tion cli­mate change or en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity in their con­tent.

In OECD coun­tries, al­most 40 per­cent of 15-year-old stu­dents only have ba­sic knowl­edge about en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

Two-thirds of all adults lack fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy; 37 per­cents of adults in EU coun­tries at­tended adult ed­u­ca­tion in 2011.

Only 6 per­cent of adults in the poor­est coun­tries have ever at­tended lit­er­acy pro­grammes.

"If we want a greener planet, and sus­tain­able fu­tures for all, we must ask more from our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems than just a trans­fer of knowl­edge. We need our schools, uni­ver­si­ties and life­long learn­ing pro­grammes to fo­cus on eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial per­spec­tives that help nur­ture em­pow­ered, crit­i­cal, mind­ful and com­pe­tent cit­i­zens," said Aaron Be­navot, Direc­tor of the GEM Re­port.

Mo­hammed Arifeen

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