Education and socio-economic development
IT is a universally admitted fact that education is a linchpin to make a nation economically as well as socially prosperous but unfortunately this sphere remained a neglected zone in our country. From the very inception of the country, each and every gov- ernment failed to take this issue seriously which badly affected the pace of development and growth. And in this respect, the incumbent government is also no exception. In order to shine among the galaxies of the nations, our rulers must have to work with the honesty of the purpose to increase literacy rate.
Singapore, liberated in 1965, according to a report was a small and poor island with extremely limited sources. It had shortage of potable water, rapid population growth, very substandard housing sector besides intensively aggravated conflicts among the religious and ethnic groups. At that time, there was no compulsory education and it had a small number of high schools, college graduates and skilled workers.
Today, Singapore is a luminous as global hub of trade, finance and transportation. Its transformation "from third world to first" only in one generation is one of Asia's great success stories. All this happened because the rulers of the island set education as their first and foremost priority.
All children in Singapore receive a minimum of 10 years of education in one of the country's 360 schools. Now the students of the Island securing top positions in mathematics and science internationally. In short the Island achieved the excellence in educating its inhabitants in just one generation time period. In the last decade, country made significant improvement in education sector, enabling the country to attain unprecedented growth and development. Now according to a UNESCO report, Singapore's literacy rate stands almost 97 percent. The Island was able to achieve the literacy rate by understanding the fact that education is indispensible to attain sustainable economic growth and development. The rulers of Singapore made landmark policies and implemented them in letter and spirit.
In Pakistan every government introduced policies to increase literacy rate but no improvement was seen in practice.
According to UNESCO's latest report Pakistan's literacy rate stands at 58.7 percent which is far below than other countries in the region.
Bangladesh literacy rate is 61.5 percent, Bhutan 64.9 percent, India 71 percent and Nepal 64.5 percent. In the year 2009 Bangladesh literacy rate was 53.3 percent, Nepal 56.5 and Bhutan 52.8 percent.
According to the annual Pakistan Education Statistics report for 20142015, staggering 24 million Pakistani children are out of school. Of the 50.8 million children aged five to 16 in the country, 47 percent do not receive an education. In 2014, Index Mundi report ranked Pakistan 199 among 215 countries globally.
What to talk of provision of modern education, basic facilities in our schools are missing. Every time huge funds are spent on these facilities but we never heard the good news that our schools have been provided with the basic facilities fully. Newspapers and televisions are continuously exposing the rulers claim that they have provided the schools with all basic missing facilities. Even college students have to learn in tents without desks and four walls of the schools and colleges especially in the far flung areas. Ghost school system is another harsh reality. Experts have linked this sorry state of education in the country with lack of political will and indifferent attitude of the rules towards the basic need.
They say that the governments in the country made policies to increase literacy rate but in fact failed to implement them. Once again all the four provinces have devised polices to make education free and compulsory to increase literacy rate in 2014.
In this regard, the Punjab government passed Free and Compulsory Act 2014. According to the Act, the government will impart every child of the age of 5 to 16 free and compulsory education and the parents will send their children to schools failing which the parents have to face legal action. According to the bill private schools will ensure 10 percent quota for the deserving children.
Regardless of the fact every government passed such acts to boost literacy rate, according to reports, the overall literacy rate estimated at 60 percent in 2012-2013, has gone down to 58 percent. The government must understand the reality that basic needs come first and luxuries second.
They should set education which is a basic need as their first priority. It is need of the hour that for the cause of national development and growth both provincial and federal government should join hands to work on war-footing to increase literacy rate to a significant level at least within the next five years.
The goal cannot be achieved without the proper implementation of polices and laws contrived to increase literacy. Corruption is rampant in our education sector. Funds allocated to the education have also not been spent for the cause of education properly. The elements behind the misusage of the funds should also be dealt with iron hands.