IT is a great pity that while the country is slipping behind in the global race for education, a vital input for progress and prosperity, our ruling leadership is doing little to catch up. It even seems to discount the necessity of having an educated nation, which is evident from the fact that as against UNESCO's recommendation to set aside at least four percent of the GDP for the educational sector, the Pakistan government reduced its budgetary allocation from 2.4 percent in 2008-09 to 2.3 percent 2009-10. One would very much wish that where the UNESCO failed, Dr Mujahid Kamran, the Punjab University Vice Chancellor, would succeed. Speaking at an award giving ceremony held to encourage top students on Saturday at Lahore, he urged upon all political parties to have an act of parliament passed, ensuring that four percent of the GDP went to the educational sector. It is also noteworthy that other countries in the region, which are ahead of us in the literacy rate, are spending much higher amounts to join the advanced nations of the world in as short a time as possible. For instance, Maldives allocates as high as 7.5 percent of the GDP, Iran 4.7 percent, India 3.8 percent and Nepal 3.4 percent. The result is that Pakistan's illiterate population has been going up. It increased from 22 million in 1961 to 48 million in 2005, and getting anywhere near the global expectation of 90 percent of literacy by 2015 is just out of the question. It seems that some legally binding measures, as suggested by the VC, have to be taken to compel our leadership to attend to this important need of the nation. The proposed yearly allocation of $200 million out of the Kerry-Lugar Act should be used to supplement the government effort to make public schools, with 20 million students, and higher institutions of learning an effective instrument of education.