Education is the backbone of any country and Pakistan is way behind in this aspect. Sri lank has 97% literacy rate and most of the countries that were and are underdeveloped, like us, have concentrated on providing education. But the official statistics released by the Federal Education Ministry of Pakistan show a desperate picture of education for all, especially for girls. The overall literacy rate is 46 per cent, (which I don’t believe) while only 26 per cent of girls are literate. One of the most deplorable aspects is, that in some places, particularly northern tribal areas, the education for girls is strictly prohibited on religious grounds.

This is a gross misinterpretation of Islam. Poverty is also a big hurdle in girls’ education. According to UNICEF, 17.6 per cent of Pakistani children are working to support their families as Pakistan is not a welfare state and the state does not provide for unemployed or disabled. Indeed, child labour is very common in Pakistan and no steps are being taken to stop it. Officially, the government of Pakistan is committed to providing every citizen access to education, but budget allocation for education does not correspond with the statements made by the government.

Feminist economists argue that the government of Pakistan needs to fully address and resolve the gender concerns that exist in the educational sector. Although media has played an effective role in convincing people to send their daughters to schools, the situation remains dramatic in villages and small towns where almost 70 per cent of the country’s population resides. I would like the concerned authorities to please take this issue seriously. A problematic education system would not serve Pakistan. It is the time for educated and better Pakistan.

BUSHRA QAMER,

Lahore,March 29.