On Saturday female students of the Government Girls High School, Lower Dir, staged a protest against the school management’s decision of not enrolling them in higher classes due to a lack of capacity. Additionally, attacks by militants from January 2007 to October 2016 that have destroyed schools have often been directed at female students and their teachers, blocking girls’ access to education. In December 2015, the Ministry for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) reported that in 2015, 360 schools were destroyed in three of the seven regions of FATA.

Pakistan faces significant education challenges, with an estimated 25 million children out of school, but those in schools also do not get the education the state promises them. Militancy is just one reason for the crisis in education. Over 70 per cent of teachers in Pakistan agree that corporal punishment is useful, according to a study by Alif Ailaan. Last year an eight-grade student at a private cadet college in Larkana reportedly lost his consciousness and was paralysed after being beaten by his teacher. In August 2016 a local court in Chitral sent the principal of a private school to jail on judicial remand for assaulting minors. The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had introduced a law for safeguarding child rights in 2010. Under Sections 34 and 35 of the KP Child Rights Act, all forms of corporal punishment are prohibited. Yet, in 2016 there were reports of children being beaten in schools in KP.

Madrassas fare no better. There is no scientific or mathematical curriculum and reports suggest that a large number of Madrassa students run away to escape torture at religious schools. In 2014 a private channel reported that a 12-year-old girl was raped and later killed by an imam of a local mosque in Sindh. In 2015 Asian Human Rights Commission reported that an eight-year-old girl in the Badin district was raped by the imam of the mosque and that  a seven-year-old boy’s dead body was recovered from a mosque situated in Green Town, Lahore.

Many cases go unregistered and remain unnoticed. While most schools may not have these problems, more than enough do for it be a considered a national problem. There needs to be a clear directive by the state that crimes against children will not be tolerated, and parents need to know under what laws they can appeal to the state for justice. This is one side of the moral crisis we are facing today- where youth gangs rule universities, men with sticks and batons are found hitting children in school, and girls are not allowed to access their rights, cutting our human capital down to half. If this is the quality of education we offer to our children, how can we expect our youth to have any sense of civic or moral duty?