We celebrated another literacy Day yet again with full agreement that an International Literacy Day would hardly make any difference in Pakistan as education has always been very low on government priority here. Certainly, the number of schools in our country keeps increasing, or so we hope but there is the other less encouraging news that the number of dropouts is also increasing. While schools in municipalities are trying to adopt more child-friendly methods, in several other places, more and more schools are falling back on rote learning with overemphasis on assessments. The predicament of uncaring, reluctant and truant teachers is something that countless rural schools have to live with. There is mounting evidence to show that Pakistani society itself lacks the yearning to see all of its children go to school one day. Yes, some segments of general public holds such an aspiration dear but they are too frail or casual to cause any inexorable pressure on the state. Some might say why does not the government fulfill its primary obligations? To ask such a question is to get caught in a language game. After all, isnt the state of Pakistan an expression of the mind of the public it serves? Indeed, so long as we analyze the dilemma principally by searching for the culprit, we wont get very far. Grasp of the situation and the get-up-and-go approach it requires necessitates that we take a broader view and position ourselves. Let us see. With grit and help, if the parents do manage to put the child into school, the internal dynamics of the education system, which are just as intimidating, get into play. These dynamics have to do with teachers mindset towards their students and the stodgy pedagogy they engage in. The children of poorer folk cannot go beyond the institutional discrimination they face in schools due to lack of resources and in due course leave the school with shame of failure. The scale at which this process operates can be judged from what is known as the drop-out rate. We need no special imagination to guess that the drop-out children belong to the poor and deprived sections of our society. The harsh treatment meted out to children begins as soon as they somehow manage to enroll. In schools that have no more than one or two teachers, the focus stays inevitably on the higher primary classes, and initial classes are left to fend for themselves. This is in stark contrast to the developed world where initial classes receive the best possible attention that a school can provide and teachers who specialize in teaching this class are given high respect in the system and society. The general picture of school education is morose, but the saddest part of it is manifested in education of the slum children. -UMER MUMTAZ, Rawalpindi, September 9.