Education is considered to be the primary defence of a country which builds up the nations to face modern day challenges besides developing the youth as talented “leaders of tomorrow.” Developing nations like South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan; and even our neighboring People’s Republic of China, prioritized provision of quality education to their children and the rest is history. Today, these nations are developed and prosperous, while Pakistan is struggling to come out of vicious circle of poverty, sagging economy and spate of terrorism. Our people are suffering from lack of resources, our industry is facing acute shortage of energy and our youth is wandering aimless and jobless. This is a very bleak picture of a vibrant country which has one of the best resources and mineral assets in the world. We are not lacking resources but the failure to govern well our country has resulted in aggravating of the situation. If we want to emerge as another success model in South Asia, then we will have to give credence to our educational system so that everyone could have equal access to the fundamental right of education.
It’s is poignant to note that governance model has badly failed to overhaul the country according to the aspirations of the people. The root cause of this failure is the inconsequential funding of education sector which resulted in spread of ignorance, bigotry and hatred. The report of Pakistan Education Taskforce presents a depressing and bleak picture of the education sector in Pakistan. According to it, roughly one in ten of the world’s primary-age children, who are not in school, live in Pakistan; placing us second in the global ranking of out-of-school children. This is shameful and heart-burning.
I wonder if there will be a day when all the children of this beautiful home-land will be able to study and enjoy equal opportunities of competition in practical life. If we want to make Pakistan a strong and vibrant country according to the aspirations of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then we will have to make education our highest priority. Otherwise, our future as a developed nation is very bleak.
Why we going poorer day by day and other nations are enjoying the fruits of their investment in education sector? Because they have learnt that the art of survival is commensurate with the provision of best education to their children. Honest leadership is another benefit which gives vitality to national goals.
I would like to quote the example of Singapore- a multilingual island nation which has achieved brilliance and economic prosperity due to its honesty of purpose and committed leadership of famed Lee Kuan Yew; who has proved to the world that committed and dedicated leadership is the biggest asset of a nation which can mold human resource into national strong point for development.
We must also learn that education is not a source of getting jobs only, but it has a strong correlation with overall socio-economic development of the country. In the contemporary times, when major focus is on ‘knowledge economy,’ the role of quality education becomes all the more important in the development of educated human capital. An educated society will also have rule of law and respect for the rights of the others especially religious minorities.
There is some light at the end of the dark tunnel of ignorance.
Keeping in view the urgent need of providing quality education to all the children, especially out of school children, the Punjab government has adopted a number of innovative steps to ensure equal access to education by everyone. In this regard, Punjab government has already introduced public private partnership in 36 districts through Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) and about 1.3 million deserving students are being provided quality education free of cost. It is heartening that girls have outnumbered the boys in education under this program. The setting up of Daanish Schools for the poorest of the poor in less developed and remote hinterlands is a unique step towards right direction. These schools are established for those impecunious strata that have no dreams but pain and misery in their eyes. Now, the state of Pakistan has returned hope and vibrancy to them in shape of education.
Provision of fee by the poor students in higher institutions is another big issue in Pakistan as many students cannot bear their dues due to poverty. Therefore, the Punjab government has also established Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF) to shoulder the funding of deserving students in institutions of higher education. This is a small beginning but it’s hoped that it will herald a new Pakistan where quality education will be accessible by everyone.