Educating the Future of Pakistan

Education and care of children is the national responsi-bility of all with the govern-ment

Pakistan is one of the few countries where ba­sic sectors such as food, health and education are rife with destitution and no one is paying atten­tion to it. If we focus solely on education, as per the statis­tics of five years ago, the number of chil­dren out of school was around 22 million, while now it has exceeded 26 million. This situation is a matter of con­cern for the federal and provin­cial governments, especially for those political parties who, be­fore coming to power, raised the slogan of making education public, claim to provide free health and education across the country and promised employ­ment to the unemployed edu­cated youth. Still, after coming to power, they do nothing and all the claims are left in the heap.

Every developed country in the world perceives the impor­tance of education. Free edu­cation is mandatory in public schools, and it is compulsory to bring children to school, but in Pakistan, no special atten­tion is paid to this; promises and claims are made here, but the reality is quite the opposite; nothing is spent on education in the budget, nor are children brought to school for education. According to a report prepared by the Pakistan Institute of Ed­ucation, a subsidiary of the Fed­eral Ministry of Education, in collaboration with UNESCO, 11 million children in Punjab, 7.6 million in Sindh, 3.6 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3.13 million in Balochistan while 80,000 children in the federal capital Islamabad are deprived of going to school but no one is concerned here, nor is anyone turning a deaf year to them.

The promotion of education has not been a priority under any government in Pakistan, everyone has been subordinat­ed to their interests. If some­one sees interest, a little more is done otherwise, everything con­tinues as it is. During the Mus­lim League (N) period, there has been a lot of talk about Danish Schools, while during the Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, bringing children to school with a uniform-free curriculum has also been widely discussed. But the results of all these are in front of everyone in the form of 26.2 million out-of-school children (OOSC). These figures should be eye-opening for the rulers but everyone has closed their eyes and put on a blanket of indifference here.

This is a clear proof of such in­difference that all the technical sectors including education are entrusted to such bureaucrats whose ambitious vision is only for their privileges. They sink the raft of one department for some time and then they move towards the other. Ever since the 18th amendment, the Fed­eral Ministry of Education, the Federal and Provincial HEC have been consuming billions of ru­pees illicitly while their output is not significant. This can be in­ferred from the lack of funding for research and other academ­ic activities. On the other hand, even when funds are received, the heads of educational insti­tutions prioritize spending on themselves over investing in re­search and researchers. For a long time, the World Bank has been advocating that the federal government devolve the educa­tion and health departments to the provinces and even after de­volution of power to the prov­inces, still the bureaucracy and policymakers are not making enough fruitful efforts to devise policies to enhance education quality. Thus, HEC amendment bill 2023 suggested reviving the authority of the higher educa­tion commission in enforcing standardization in the educa­tional sector because all stake­holders are merely rooted in personal gains rather than na­tional interests and there is no one to stop them.

No one cares that children are the future builders of the na­tion, nor is there any regret that these future architects spend their days away from school washing dishes in hotels, black­ening their hands in workshops and working at brick kilns. Such children are forced to bear the financial burden of their home. The poor education strategy of the government along with the economic hardship has also played a major role in these chil­dren being out of school. Accord­ing to a research, approximately 60% of out-of-school children live in rural areas of the country where there are no schools at all or if there are, they lack teach­ers and infrastructure. With a large number of ghost schools across the country, the majority are schools whose buildings are occupied by powerful people. These vandals are taking not only schools but also other gov­ernment buildings for their per­sonal use whereas there is no one to question them and bring them under the law.

In this country, the power­ful are doing what they want and the child of the poor is de­prived of health and education. Education and care of children is the national responsibility of all with the government. If we work together with govern­ment to consider the deprive kids as our children and don’t equip them with the best edu­cation in the spirit of compas­sion and love, then these chil­dren will become a time bomb of extremism, terrorism and so­cietal crimes and will cause the destruction of the entire society. Therefore, it is the collective re­sponsibility of the government as well as the society to nur­ture these future builders, oth­erwise, they will be a source of chaos for the entire society.

Attiya Munawer
The writer is an activist and environmen-talist. She covers human rights and politico-environmen-tal issues. She tweets @Attiya
Munawer and can be reached at

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