'We don't need no ed­u­ca­tion'

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

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

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