Dilemma of education in Pakistan


How can we forget that on 1st April 2016, the incumbent federal government made a startling claim that 100 per cent primary-age children will be enrolled in schools across the country in just one month? Really amazing statement but the federal government is unaware that the task that could not be accomplished in over 68 years would be done in only one month.

Then a few days later again Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, advised the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) to chalk out an action plan to achieve a 90 per cent adult literacy rate by 2025. Good intentions apparently, and a good directive. But, how? Nobody knows, even the minister himself would not know, if you ask him, how this target would be achieved. I read both the statement twice, then thrice, and then suddenly a thought flashed through my mind.

These statements were issued on April Fools’ Day. That means the Ministry of Planning was perpetrating a cruel joke on the people of Pakistan. The details given in the plan are interesting, and require, at least, one serious reading.

According to the ‘working paper,’ prepared by the Ministry of Planning, the implementation strategy has been distributed among all stakeholders: all four provincial governments and other territories under the government of Pakistan. The paper clearly defined that from April 1st to 30th; the federal and provincial governments will do their utmost to get 100 per cent primary school children enrolled.

The provinces will run enrolment campaigns under the leadership of their chief ministers. Before we go into further details, let’s see who these provincial chief executives are and who will execute this plan. What have been their priorities, and what have they done so far for the cause of education?

First of all, the chief minister of Punjab, whose party the Pakistan Muslim League-N is ruling the roost at the Centre also. How much importance is given to education by the Punjab CM is evident from the fact that recently almost all development funds for the education and health sectors were diverted to the Orange-Line Metro Train (OLMT) project in Lahore to avoid suspension of work on the project. The opposition parties stated in the Punjab Assembly recently that the funds for 611 education and health sector projects, approved in the annual budget, had been given over for completion of the OLMT project.

A cursory look at the development projects in Punjab shows that the chief minister is interested only in big road and mass transit schemes in Lahore. The OLMT project, signal-free corridor (Jail Road), canal road extension in Lahore city would cost the people of Punjab Rs. 210 billion. Lahore Ring Road project is being completed at a cost of over Rs. 29 billion. The Rawalpindi Metro Bus project’s cost is Rs. 45 billion.

But where is education on this priority list? The Punjab chief minister must know that Article 25-A has not been implemented in his province yet, that binds the government to provide free education to all children in the age group of 5 to 16 years. According to the Annual State of Education Report 2015, over 15 per cent of children between ages of five and 16 are still out of school. The standard of education being imparted to children is not satisfactory at all. The report shows that 30 per cent children in grade five are unable to read a grade two-level text in Urdu. Tens of hundreds of schools lack basic facilities. In such circumstances, how would the chief minister enrol all children in schools is better known to the chief minister or the other authorities concerned.

The situation seems equally difficult for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief executive also. Only 1, 605 educational institutions, out of a total 3, 669 extensively damaged in the 2005 earthquake, have been rebuilt and over 2, 000 still await the attention of the chief executive of the province. Also, according to an Alif Ailaan report issued in December 2015, 75 per cent of out-of-school children in KP have never been to school.

The report says that despite tall claims, the KP chief minister has failed to impose an education emergency in the province with 26, 500 schools still lacking basic facilities and the Tameer-e-School Programme is yet to materialise. At least 10, 000 schools do not have electricity, 7, 500 are without drinking water, 5, 000 lack boundary walls and 4, 000 have no washroom. The education minister recently admitted that some 159 schools had been closed in different parts of the province, mostly because of non-availability of teaching staff.

However, in Sindh almost half the children, under five years of age, are facing malnutrition in his province, that the percentage of out-of-school children in Sindh is the highest in Pakistan, and that the problem of over 40, 000 ghost teachers and 5, 229 ghost schools are un-addressed in the province. Around 60 per cent schools are without drinking water facility, 40 per cent without electricity and 35 per cent without any boundary wall.

The Balochistan government, being run by a coalition dominated by the PML-N, has already shown its helplessness to improve the state of education in the province. Data shared by the education department, reveals that almost half of the population of the province does not have access to education. In provincial assembly, a few months back a session was being held in which it was briefed that there are only 12, 500 schools — 7, 000 amongst them with only one room and one teacher — for over 22, 000 human settlements spread across the province. The enrolment rate amongst boys is no more than 35 per cent and the figure decreases by 50 per cent as far as girls are concerned. While 1.1m children receive primary education, only 50, 000 manage to complete matriculation. A mere 30, 000 students go on to receive higher education.

Education authorities in Pakistan are good at setting ambitious targets but inept at following through. Successive governments have abandoned policies of the previous administration and adopted new and more ambitious targets, wreaking havoc on the education system and squandering billions of rupees. As a result, Pakistan has failed to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of primary education for all children by 2015.

I personally believe that lack of political will and sincerity of this failure. Every other ruler announces a campaign to bring all children to school. But nothing happens except for publication of the government advertisements in newspapers and sloganeering on the electronic media for a few months in this regard. Our educational system needs to be harmonised and equalised. One language, one syllabus and one system are the solutions of our problems that hinder to our national progress. In the view of importance of education, the Government should take solid steps towards implementation instead of projecting policies. In this regard, the allocations should be made easy and timely from provinces to districts and then to educational institutes. Also, every member of the society must play his/her role to advance the country by leaps and bounds.


  1. How can anyone expect something on education by Shahbaz Sharif. PMLN’s politics thrives on hooliganism, police and ignorance. Educating people will directly result in loosing vote bank. No sane person will do that. So by not focusing on education, Shahbaz Sharif has proven his sane nature. Now it is a fact that for Shahbaz Sharif Punjab is Lahore only, so seeing all the money of whole Punjab province syphoning off to Lahore is also proving intentional sensibility of Shahbaz Sharif. However, a worrying thing is that political leaders of PMLN from outside Lahore are also silent. Probably, it explains the autocracy of PMLN. But the real problem in this regard is the non-Laborite people who vote for PMLN. If they vote for PMLN even after observing this looting of their money for Lahore then it’s a pity for the people and proves their senselessness.

  2. it is very informative article regarding the facts in education system in the country. indeed this is need of the time to ponder on emerging condition of education and contribute to improve it. at least creating awareness on facts……


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