THE state of Pakistan's education on the 45th International Literacy Day today presents a picture of criminal neglect. Forsaken by the ruling political circles and the influential feudal classes over the years and exploited, with some notable exceptions, by the private initiative for the purpose of making money, it has not shown much promise. The best that the government has done in response to the public's burgeoning demand for adequate educational facilities and the pressure of international agencies concerned with the spread of literacy is to periodically come out with oral commitments of support to the cause but without any serious follow-up action. For instance, budgetary allocations for this sector, fundamental to progress and prosperity, never came up to four percent of the GDP, even though the government had signed an international declaration to that effect way back in 1962 that it would so raise it by 1980. It would be a miraculous turnaround in the federal government's dim view of educational needs of the masses, if it were to accept the Punjab government's recommendations to jack up the allocation to seven percent from 2.7 percent (a fantastic jump, no doubt); most likely, the suggestion would be regarded as laughable and thrown out of the window. Even if promised four percent were to be included in the educational policy, it is not likely to be adhered to in practice, if the past were to serve any guide. The sad story does not come to an end with the provision of funds. The lack of committed and trained teachers, the mushrooming tuition centres run by semi-literate staff and their unaffordable charges, outdated syllabi having little relationship with modern-day needs of society, the proliferating teaching institutions spreading extremist doctrines - these are some of ticklish issues the government has to deal with. The task, no doubt, is gigantic but not insurmountable, as examples of other countries would show. All it needs a national commitment, with the government and all sectors of society dedicated to honouring it.