Pakistan stands at No 144 among the world nations in the field of literacy. Its actual literacy percentage is not more than 44 per cent against the government claims of 62 per cent.
The state of illiteracy around the world including Pakistan can be imagined from the fact that 650 million persons in Asia where 75 per cent of the world population dwells are illiterate. Of the illiterate population 2/3rd are women. Half of this illiterate population is in densely populated South Asia comprising India, Pakistan and Bangladesh which forms 22 per cent of the world population.
According to the UN estimates, 8.75 million do not read or write. According to Education for All study report evaluated by Education Executive Club, only 30 per cent increase has been registered in the adult literacy during the last 20 years. According to a recent World Bank report, 70 per cent population in Pakistan is below the poverty line. Of these population 30 per cent children do not at all go to schools.
Only 17 per cent girls complete their education up to Primary level while 20.7 million children are out of school. As many as 10.30 million children do not think of going to school due to acute poverty and hunger. In Southern Punjab, there is one school in 7500 villages while the literacy per centage is 12 per cent in this part of South Asia.
In Punjab province, overall 40 per cent children leave the school prior to Matric. In Sindh province 80 lakh children do not have access to schools while only 50 lakh children are going to schools. In NWFP, which is less populated, 7 lakh children are out of schools while the plight of Balochistan is miserable. Fifty per cent of school going children are deprived of basic facilities while the overall rate of literacy increased only 30 per cent in past 50 years.
According to statistics available from the federal statistical bureau, around 21 million children are studying from Primary to MA level in Pakistan, of them 9.9 million are girls.
Pakistan was one of the signatory to UN Dakar World Forum committed to raise the literacy rate by 86 per cent by the year 2015. The monitoring report published this year shows the situation in Pakistan was disappointing while other countries made tremendous progress towards this goal. Pakistan even could not achieve the targets of adult literacy, basic and non-formal education.
EEC Member Executive and ex-EDO Prof M Sharif Malik said that against the gigantic and complex problem of literacy, Punjab Government did tremendous work by revamping the education under its Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme, new enrolment, training of teachers for quality education, free education, stipend to girls, recruitment of new teachers, provision of missing facilities, up-gradation of schools and colleges, establishment of separate ministry for literacy, introduction of new literacy centres and 250 centres under Parha Likha Punjab for enrolment and education, support to NGOs devoted to education, loans for opening new schools to NGOs etc by the Punjab Education Foundation.
But all these measures become short of the galloping population growth and its requirement. There must be coordination between development and population control measures otherwise the resources will continue to be eaten up by the population menace without creating any difference to the life style of the people.
The Nation, November 28, 2007