Studies conducted in Pakistan conclude that the average rate of return to another year of schooling is 5 to 7 percent. The constitution of Pakistan allows free and compulsory education for the children of ages (5-16) years. After the 18th constitutional amendment (2010) education has become a provincial subject, but federal government has always played an imperative role in this regard.
The overall literacy rate was 18% while male and female literacy rate was 19%, 12% respectively in 1951 in Pakistan. It augmented to 60%, 71%, and 49% respectively in 2018-19.Pakistan is ranked 152 out of 189 countries in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) ranking. The Human Development Report 2019 stated that Pakistan has not exhibited improvement in key educational indicators, such as literacy rate, gross enrolment ratio, and expenditure on education, as compared to regional countries.
Pakistan’s literacy rate 57 percent lags well behind its neighboring countries. The primary school dropout rate is 22.7 percent (3rd highest in the region after Bangladesh and Nepal), which is alarming given it as at the stage of formative learning (Economic Survey of Pakistan, 2019-20).The United Nations Global Education Monitoring Report 2016, concluded that Pakistan is 50 years in primary education while 60 years behind in secondary education to achieve the education goals. The number of children at primary, secondary and upper secondary level still from out of school were 5.6, 5.5, 10.4 million respectively. This is an alarming and mind boggling situation for the whole nation. Why this happened? Let us try to find out the answer of the question.
The root cause of the problem started from colonialism. Under the policy of divide and rule, they divided education among rich and poor. They dismantled the traditional education system and introduced an English education system. It had no link with the domestic education system and had its own foreign curriculum and exams. Educational institutions that followed this system were established in the region. The purpose of those institutions was to educate elite class only. Unfortunately, the educated elite class from those institutions indulged in a false complex and considered themselves a superior class.
The non-elite education system (Urdu Medium) was only for masses. It had plethora of impediments. It was geared towards preparing a working class from the middle, lower middle and the poor class. They spent their whole life struggling for a living, and accepted it as fate from generation to generation. Unfortunately, that class never became the part of the elite education system during or after the colonial rule. But the demonstration effect of the elite education system created a panic among the masses with the passage of time.
So in the name of English Medium, there was a mushrooming of local private schools in rural and urban areas. The local English medium schools attracted the middle class. But they could not help the poor class to catch up due to their poor economic condition. They started more or less ten education policies for the betterment of non elite education system that did not fully achieve their goals. So education became a dream for the poor class.
The post-COVID impact due to the prolong closure of school will have a massive impact on Pakistan’s already fragile education system, such as learning gaps, and social/emotional/mental well-being. This could also lead to no promotion next year, ultimately leading to a halt in continuity of education.
The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to impact us for a long time. Millions of children have no access to school and for our already fragile education system this is indeed an unprecedented situation in the history of education. However, we must embrace this unexpected change and apply an alternate approach to ensure continuity in education.
This shocking statistic and the poor state of Education in Pakistan since the very beginning is the very reason that Fatima Memorial Hospital took the initiative of commencing the NUR Community Outreach Program (NCOP) in the year 1985. The objective of NCOP is to act as a catalyst of change in order to bring about socio-economic development of the underprivileged communities, via an integrated approach to education, healthcare and economic empowerment.
NUR Foundation has been providing education to the underprivileged communities (without any discrimination of age/gender/caste/religion, etc) through its chain of formal and informal schools in underdeveloped and neglected areas of Lahore. Every year, approximately 1800 students pass out from our schools. The current students enrolled in NCOP Schools located in Malikpur/Talwara, Lakhudair, Nainsukh and Gajjumatta total 1476.
In addition to this, NUR Foundation has also started the initiative of Adult Literacy Program in which 30 adult females are currently enrolled. The objective of this program is to provide the basic level of education to adult women who have never been to a school before.
With current Pandemic (COVID19) around, we have more challenges to address. The Rural Areas need more help and assistance, so that our teachers can educate the people about the disease and also keep educating the children on individual basis with all precautions.
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