'We don't need no education'
we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
Had he been alive today, he would have had the satisfaction of knowing that in this microchip-dominated twenty-first century world, where merit is measured in terms of economic success, there are still voices like those of schoolgirls such as Malala that hunger for learning even at enormous personal risk.
Shaw, the only person ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), at first refused the Nobel Prize because he had never sought public honours. But his wife prevailed upon him to reverse his decision because it was "a tribute to Ireland." However he did not accept the money that went with the award, and requested that it be used instead for translating Swedish books into English.
Till his death in 1950, he believed that learning brought a person out of darkness through the gate of knowledge to the orbit of light. Only then could life become "a perpetual song in an articulate harmony of thought and form" as a former chief justice of the Dacca (Dhaka) High Court said in the 1960s.
The education that Malala so desperately sought is the birthright of every child, and it is the duty of the state to ensure that it is freely available. This is endorsed by the Constitution of Pakistan, and was further reinforced through the 18th Amendment which introduced Article 25A making it binding on the government to "provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law."
A leading newspaper commented that education had "now become a right and no longer a privilege as it was previously. Article 25A sets up a possible scenario where a citizen can take the government to court for not providing them access, or even be the grounds for a suo motu action." But all laws are meaningless unless they are enforced. The ground reality in Pakistan is altogether different. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in league with its affiliates, has destroyed schools with a vengeance, but successive governments have completely demolished education.
Statistical data shows that Pakistan spent a miniscule 2.5 percent of its budget on education in 2005-2006, and, as if this was not bad enough, the current outlay hovers around a disgraceful 1.5 percent. A recent survey reveals that 30,000 schools are housed in shaky dilapidated