Education and so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Ja­hangir Hayat

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.

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