Pakistan’s National Human Development Report says to meet global education goal by 2030, annual net enrolment rate must quadruple from current rate of 0.92pc to 3.8pc.
ISLAMABAD - Approximately 9.45 million children are not enrolled in primary schools despite Pakistan’s constitutional commitment to free education for all and at the current pace, complete enrolment won’t be achieved until 2076.
However, to meet the global education goal by 2030, the annual net enrolment rate must quadruple from the current rate of 0.92% to 3.8%.
With a growing youth population, the nation stands on the brink of both challenge and opportunity. Currently, over 64% of Pakistan’s population is under 30, a demographic trend set to continue until at least 2050. This youth bulge can be harnessed as a driving force for positive change, particularly in the realm of family planning and healthier population management.
Pakistan’s National Human Development Report 2017 offers revealing insights into the current state of our youth. It highlights that only 6% of young individuals have more than 12 years of education, and 29 out of every 100 are illiterate. In terms of employment, 39 out of 100 youth have jobs, with a significant gender disparity. Only 4% are actively searching for work, while 57 out of 100 are neither working nor seeking employment. The report also underscores the lack of connectivity and social engagement space, with limited access to the internet, cell phones, libraries, and sports facilities.
Moreover, around 9.45 million children are not enrolled in primary schools despite Pakistan’s constitutional commitment to free education for all. At the current pace, complete enrolment won’t be achieved until 2076. However, to meet the global education goal by 2030, the annual net enrolment rate must quadruple from the current rate of 0.92% to 3.8%.
To effectively utilise this youth demographic as a demographic dividend, urgent action is required. Each year, almost 4 million young people enter the working-age population. However, without interventions, the current labour force participation and unemployment rates cannot accommodate this influx. To address this, about 1.3 million jobs need to be created annually over the next five years to improve labour force participation rates and reduce unemployment.
The Delivering Accelerated Family Planning in Pakistan (DAFPAK) programme, led by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), recognises the potential of Pakistan’s youth bulge. The KhairKhwah platform, under the DAFPAK programme, is a commendable effort to empower young individuals with information about reproductive health and family planning. Yet, to fully realise the demographic dividend, a holistic approach is imperative.
Pakistan must focus on comprehensive education reforms, bridging gender gaps, providing skill development opportunities, and enhancing job prospects. The youth must have access to quality education, equipping them with relevant skills for the workforce. Gender equality initiatives are essential to ensure equal opportunities for all. Moreover, creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and innovation will drive economic growth.
By investing in education, skills, and opportunities, we can turn challenges into opportunities. Pakistan’s youth can drive progress, healthier families, and economic growth. With concerted efforts from the government, civil society, and international partners like FCDO’s DAFPAK, we can ensure that our youth play a pivotal role in shaping a healthier, more prosperous Pakistan for generations to come.