Education is in crisis in Pakistan. The following quotes above are from the Pakistan Education Task Force in 2011, but nothing has changed, and these could still have been written today:
“Failure to provide education is, without doubt, Pakistan’s most urgent self-inflicted disaster.”
“50% of school children in Pakistan (aged 6-16) cannot read a sentence. That is an education emergency.”
“Pakistan is crippled by an education emergency that threatens tens of millions of children.”
Pakistan’s schools are totally inadequate to meet the needs of the country’s exploding population.
- 30% of the population — 60 million children — are between 5 and 16 years old.
- 22.5 million or 50% of school aged children (5 – 16 years old) are “out of school”. The second highest country in the world according to the UNESCO.
- 50% drop out of school within the first five years (the second highest dropout rate in the world). Only 22% of girls and 47% of boys complete primary school (World Bank).
- A report from the International Crisis Group on Education Reform in Pakistan describes “a deeply-flawed national curriculum that promotes xenophobia and religious intolerance”. Because of the strong emphasis on Islamic teaching and ethics, few children from minority communities attempt to enrol in government schools.
- “Madrasas and religious schools of Islamic parties and foundations fill the gaps of a dilapidated public education sector but contribute to religious extremism and sectarian violence.” (ICG report)
- Quality education is the privilege of the wealthy elite who can afford the high fees at private schools. The poor remain illiterate and destined to be servants of the rich.
By any standards this is an emergency, especially for minority communities. One survey estimated that only 6% of Christians have reached Class 5 and only 4% have finished High School, resulting in a Christian population that is not only poor but also without hope.
So why do millions of Pakistan’s children never go to school?
- Millions of Pakistani families are illiterate and have no understanding of the value of education.
- Poverty means many parents send their children to work to add to the family income. This is also why 50% of children drop out of school after Class 5.
- There simply are not enough free Government schools for children to attend. The Government’s education budget is too low to meet the needs of an exploding population.
- Many Government schools are poorly equipped (50% have no electricity, 25% no toilets), teachers fail to turn up or classrooms are dirty and furniture broken.
- The Government school curriculum is heavily slanted towards Islam, which makes it very hard for Christians to attend.
- There is serious prejudice against Christian children, who are often looked down on as inferior and untouchable.
Disability and disadvantage
Little consideration is given in Pakistan to the special needs of the disabled and the vulnerable.
Sadly, disability still carries a stigma and families often regard disabled children as a liability. Children with disabilities are often left neglected at home; or they may end up begging on the streets.
Orphaned children may fare better, thanks to the strong extended family; but where that fails there is no societal safety net available.
The meagre resources of the Government and private enterprise are inadequate to provide disabled or orphaned children with the care that they need.
Working with and for minorities
We are concerned for poor and neglected children regardless of background or religion and our desire is for communities to work together. But our efforts focus on Christian communities, a neglected and exploited minority whose critical needs are not being met, and our close working partners are drawn from among them.
Getting children to schools (Dawn.com)
Liz EllisStarfish Asia 1200 627
9 August 2022
Read it in 2 mins