For changing the existing state of a nation into a distinguished position in the community of nations, education is one of the major factors; it is recorded by the Government of Pakistan in its annual survey. Furthermore, so far the educational advancements which have taken place and the expertise which has been attained in due course of time are not only benefiting our country but also the surrounding regions.
It becomes in our country, even more, indispensable for its socioeconomic development through the effective transition of its vast proportion of the population such as youth. Transformation of 63 percent of youth into real wealth requires optimum capitalization by organizing a high-quality and market demand-driven basic, secondary and higher Education. According to Labour Force Survey 2020-21, literacy rate trends showed 62.8 percent in FY2020-21, more in males (from 73.0 percent to 73.4 percent) than females (from 51.5 percent to 51.9 percent). Area-wise analysis suggested that literacy increased in both rural (53.7 percent to 54.0 percent) and urban (76.1 percent to 77.3 percent). The male-female disparity seems to be narrowing down with time span. The literacy rate has gone up in all provinces, Punjab (66.1 percent to 66.3 percent), Sindh (61.6 percent to 61.8 percent), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (52.4 percent to 55.1 percent) and Balochistan (53.9 percent to 54.5 percent).
Education in Pakistan unluckily is facing multiple crises and deep-rooted long-term issues and these emergencies interact to form a poly-crisis, said a government official. It also emphasized the severe impact of the 2022 floods on education in Pakistan.
Statistics showed that over 34,000 public education institutions were destroyed or damaged. In Pakistan furthermore, the floods have affected at least 2.6 million students. Approximately 1 million children may drop out and not return to school as a result of the flood damage to education.
Different studies found that education is a human right, a powerful driver of development, and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. It delivers large, consistent returns in terms of income, and is the most important factor to ensure equity and inclusion for individuals, education promotes employment, earnings, health, and poverty reduction.
Globally, there is a 9 percent increase in hourly earnings for every extra year of schooling. For societies, it drives long-term economic growth, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion.
In the world presently our country has the highest number of out-of-school children, recently overtaking Nigeria, with an estimated 22.8 million children out-of-school. The majority of these out-of-school children are girls, who chiefly drop out of secondary school, and over 75 percent of these children are in rural areas. If we talk about the Covid-19 pandemic made these challenges hard, with at least 500,000 additional children dropping out during the pandemic. Another challenge is that the children in school are not learning well; in our country, 3 in 4 children cannot read a simple se5rt4ntence by the aged 10. It is also said that Pakistan recognizes that historical spending on education has been low and is keen to change course.
Statistics also showed that Pakistan has consistently spent between 1-3 percent of its GDP on education over the years, as opposed to UNESCO’s recommended advice of 4-6 percent of GDP. Developing countries have made tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom and more children worldwide are now in school. But learning is not guaranteed, as the 2018 World Development Report (WDR) stressed. Making smart and effective investments in people’s education is critical for developing the human capital that will end extreme poverty. At the core of this strategy is the need to tackle the learning crisis, put an end to Learning Poverty, and help youth acquire the advanced cognitive, socioemotional, technical and digital skills they need to succeed in today’s world.
The total cost of loss and damage to education is estimated to be $780 million and the UN’s $40 million appeal for education in Pakistan as of February 2023 stands at only 60 percent financed, in the current context of recent floods. The commitments made to Pakistan in terms of financial support be immediately fulfilled as Pakistan faces a grave crisis in the education sector. It is also recorded that cumulative education expenditures by federal and provincial governments in FY2021 remained at 1.77 percent of GDP.
Expenditures on education-related expenditures during FY2021 witnessed a rise of 9.7 percent, standing Rs 988 billion from Rs 901 billion. No doubt, our government has put a high priority on addressing the issues of the flood-affected areas, out-of-school children and the education of girls. The initiative of School on Wheels and the purpose of this initiative is to reach students where there is a lack of infrastructure or students that do not have the financial ability to go to school. Sources recorded that this initiative will be able to accommodate disaster-affected populations as well in the future. Pakistan requires unique solutions to the problems and the present government is completely using its resources to address the challenges of the public efficiently and professionally.
According to the annual survey, Pakistan’s literacy, enrolment and other educational indicators have been enhancing over the last couple of years. The Government of Pakistan is very much focused on enhancing both the quality and coverage of education through effective policy interventions and improving the allocation of resources, but the required reforms and improvement in this sector cannot be attained without the active participation of the private sector.