03/10/2017, 12.51
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Catholic activists: Educational emergency in Pakistan, 22.6 million children are out of school

by Kamran Chaudhry

On March 8 the ESL study was presented. In the country 44% of children between six and 16 years have no access to education, while the illiteracy rate is 59.98%. The funds for schools are limited, as opposed to those destined to military spending. The teaching of the Koran is required. Activist: "Children must go to school and not to work at home."


Lahore (AsiaNews) – There is an education emergency in Pakistan. This is what activists and Catholic educators tell AsiaNews, commenting on the last official survey that in the country of 22.6 million children do not attend school. According to National Education Management Information System NEMIS, 44pc children between the ages of five and 16 are still out of school. The statistics was shared in Pakistan Education Statistic 2015-16 http://library.aepam.edu.pk/ launched on March 8. "Balochistan province was home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children followed by The Federally Administered Tribal Areas", it says adding girls are more out of school then boys.

Professor Anjum James Paul Chairman Pakistan Minorities' Teachers Association PMTA blames increasing poverty for illiteracy.

"Four out of 10 Pakistanis are living in acute poverty in the sixth most populous country. Education expenses are increasing annually. Outdated government schools only provide free book, not school stationery. Lack of formation is responsible for increasing level of intolerance in the society", the Catholic educationist told AsiaNews.

"Even the allocated money is not spent in giving education. Most of it goes in infrastructure, maintenance of school buildings, security as well as travelling of the school staff. Plus the discriminatory education policy only focuses on Muslim students, a parliamentary committee last month week passed a bill which will make the teaching of the Quran compulsory for all Muslim students in all public and private educational institutes", added Anjum.

Amid terror attacks and religious extremism, the security state allocated only 71.5 billion rupees for education as compared to the defence budget of 781 billion rupees. Pakistan's current expenditure on education is the lowest in South Asia. The government figures show Pakistan's literacy rate is 59.98 percent, the lowest amongst the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries except Afghanistan.

Father Shafique Bashir Executive Secretary Catholic Board of Education in Faisalabad diocese holds parents responsible for not sending their children to school.

"There is a serious lack of awareness and realization about the importance of education. Today we have schools in almost every village of the country, both religious and country leaders must motivate people", said the priest who concluded a special "Year of Education" last month in the diocese.

"Msgr. Joseph Arshad, bishop of Faisalabad organized many seminars, visited Catholic schools in the diocese and urged both parents and the school authorities to meet frequently as well as enroll the dropouts. Up to 50 percent fee concession was given to deserving families. The efforts resulted in 30 percent increase in admissions", he said.

In views of Nabila Feroz, a Catholic liaison officer with Sanjog, a children's rights organization, pro children legislations can help increase the attendance of children in schools.

"There are no laws against corporal punishment in education institutions. The Punjab government issued a notification in 2005 banning corporal punishment in schools but no mechanism was established to monitor these punishments which are still in tradition. Also there is no law against domestic child labors. These children, often tortured by their rich employers, should be studying in school instead of working in homes", she said.


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