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Education woes

In recent years, Pakistan’s one sector that has undergone huge difficulties and experienced gigantic challenges seriously is education after successive governments have failed to prioritize the basic necessity to educate the citizens. Though Pakistan has doubled its budget with average increase of 17.5 percent every year since 2010 yet according Economic Survey of Pakistan, no change has occurred in the country’s literacy rate since 2013. The Economic Survey 2016-17 shows that the current literacy rate stands only 58 percent as compared to last year’s 60 percent in the country. It indicates that literacy ratio has decreased by 2 percent. The official estimates reveal that the decline in literacy rate has been witnessed in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab where it has fallen by 04, 05 and 01 percent respectively, while it has remained stagnant in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The deplorable state of education in the country is due to the shortage of competent grass root level education managers and the lack of regular school monitoring system, decentralization of powers, and public awareness on importance of education especially of girl education. Under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Pakistan had pledged to increase its literacy rate from 48 percent to 88 percent by 2015. To achieve the targeted literacy rate, Pakistan had announced development plans such as National Plan of Action 2001-15 and Education Sector Reforms (ESR). But, regrettably, after 16 years of efforts, we have achieved disappointing results. We have succeeded in getting only an additional 10 percent children enrolled in schools. In 2015, the overall literacy ratio stood at 58 percent and we have the same ratio even in 2017.

Pakistan’s inefficiency at utilising the development budget that is allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of schools is one of the significant factors responsible for the existing trend of plummeting literacy rate and for the deteriorating state of quality education slightly from the previous years which make it impossible for the country to achieve 100 percent enrolment in schools by 2018, an international target set under the sustainable development goals. The shocking fact is that the inefficient utilization of the funds is because of the shortage of competent education managers equipped with rationalized financial, administrative and managerial competencies and technology skills.

Education Department officials should be empowered to resolve most administrative matters and manage human and financial resources at the grassroots level

The length of service has been considered as the only criteria to make selections for administrative positions at divisional, district and tehsil levelsignoring the updated administrative and managerial expertise and technology skills, however, the policy is not workable in this modern age. In reality, it is one of the main factors responsible for the existence of problems that education system has been struggling with because the persons selected on the criteria are not sufficiently experts in resolving them.

After we have had the competent and well trained officials, it would be needed to evolve policy of decentralisation of authority. They should be empowered abundantly to make effective decisions, resolve administrative matters and can manage human and financial resources in their jurisdictions constructively. Then it would be their responsibility to ensure the required literacy ratio and quality education.

It was till 1990s that the education officers used to visit schools in their jurisdictions regularly. But unfortunately, with the dawn of 21st century, public sector education system embarked upon to decline swiftly because the officials discontinued the practice of visiting schools which caused rampant absenteeism of teacher and cheating in examinations to the epidemic proportions, that led to damaging quality.

As a part of enrolment campaign, rallies or walks aimed at creating awareness among parents about importance of education are held every year by the provincial education departments and National Commission for Human Development in collaboration with NGOs working for the development of education at tehsil and district headquarters, however the lowest enrolment ratio is in rural areas of the country which are never focused.

No matter what initiatives and measures are undertaken to improve education system would not bear any productive resultsuntil and unless the pointed out failings and inadequacies are addressed taking committed efforts in a professional way.

Shaikh, Abdul. Education woes. Daily Times, June 7, 2017.

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