LAHORE - Education is not getting the priority it deserves, and the budgetary allocation for the sector is much less than what the PIA, the Pakistan Steel and PEPCO are being given in subsidies to keep the sinking entities afloat. According to a report, published by the Pakistan Education Task Force, the allocation for the sector has been reduced from 2.5 per cent of the GDP in 2005-06 to just 1.5 per cent now, which will deal a serious blow to the already neglected area. Those at the helm are unmindful of the cost the only Islamic nuclear state is paying for giving a step-motherly treatment to education. The economic cost of not educatingPakistanis the equivalent of one flood every year, says the report. Some 20 million people and one fifth of Pakistan had been affected by last years floods, and damages were estimated at more than $10 billion. Experts say that the only difference between the damage caused by floods and overlooking education is that the latter is a self-inflicted disaster. As things stand, one in 10 of the worlds out-of-school children is a Pakistani. And there is zero chance that the government will reach themillennium development goalsby 2015 for education. On the other hand, India, BangladeshandSri Lankaare all on their way to achieving the goal. Indias improvement rate is 10 times that of Pakistan, Bangladeshs is twice that of Pakistan. Despite this gloomy situation, it is said, determined efforts can show results in only two years - provided an additional spending of Rs.100 billion, or a 50 percent increase over current years allocation- is ensured. What is rather little known is the fact that every Pakistani has aconstitutional rightto universal education. Article 25a sets up a possible scenario where a citizen can take the government to court for not providing him access, or even be the ground for a suo moto action. At current rate of progress, no person alive today will see a Pakistan with universal education as defined in our Constitution.Balochistan would see it in 2100 or later, says the report. As for the benefits of the education, the report says that just one year of education for women in Pakistan can help reduce fertility by 10 per cent, controlling the other resource emergency this country faces. There are 26 countries poorer than Pakistan that are sending more of their children to schools, establishing that the issue is not about finances, but will and articulating demand. The report says that it will be wrong to assume that Pakistan is too poor to provide this basic right to children. The report disputes the assumption that public school system is doing poorly because teachers are poorly paid. This is untrue. Public school teachers get paid two-thirds more than their equivalent private low cost school counterparts; they earn four times that of the average parent of a child in their school. Despite this, on any given day 10-15 per cent of teachers will be absent from their duties teaching, the report said, highlighting the rather negative attitude of teachers at some places. As for the quality of education being imparted at schools, the report says only 35per cent of school children, aged 6-16, can read a story, while 50 per cent cannot read a sentence. Their performance is only slightly better than that of out-of-school children, of whom 24 per cent can read a story. This alarmingly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of schooling. As for the facilities available to schools, the reports say, 30,000 school buildings are in dangerous condition, posing a threat to the well-being of children. It says 21,000 schools have no building whatsoever. According to the report, there is demand for education that is partly being addressed by low cost private schools, even one-third of all rural children go to these schools (public schools can cost rs.150 per month, low cost private schools the same or up to Rs. 250). Only 6 per cent of students go to Madrasahs.