It is needless to say that the focus of the nation as well as the political leadership and the parliament, since elections on 18 February 2008, is on many important issues. The nation at present is facing a crisis, which is threatening the coalition government whose fate depends on the resolution of the crisis in a manner acceptable to legal fraternity. The parliament, though acknowledged as the supreme and sovereign organ of the state, is helpless to assert its writ. It is everybody's prayer that the collective wisdom of the nation, presently represented by the coalition leadership, shall successfully tide over the present storm and get down to the serious business of the budget for 2008-09, due to be presented on 07 June 2008. Just to remind my readers, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had directed 1500 years ago to "seek knowledge, even if you have to travel to China". It may also be pertinent to remind readers that the first revelation to the Holy Prophet, may peace be upon him, was "Iqra". The importance attached to the education sector since independence is a sad saga of our brief early history. Till recently our successive governments were allocating hardly 2% of our GDP to this vital sector. The last government pledged to increase this to 4%. Let us wait and see what is the allocation in the budget for 2008 by the new democratic regime. Federal Education Minister Ahsan Iqbal (having recently resigned), lost no time in launching a new draft education policy 2008 and also initiated on 13 May 2008 a pre-budget policy dialogue on education at Islamabad to seek the recommendations of experts on critical issues for seeking pre-budget policy recommendations on education. Having attended this serious evaluation I would like to share some of the painful findings: *    Decades of Reforms and Pakistan is still ranked lowest. *    Looking at the 5-9 years age group. *    66% are enrolled, *    30% make it to the 5th grade *    10% go on to middle school. *    6.7% go on to secondary school *    0.6% go on to higher school *    Girls on average obtain 1.3 years of formal schooling while the average for boys is 3.8 year. *    Nearly 50% of all girls never attend school (22% for boys) *    Moreover, 16.8% of all public primary schools are shelter-less, 39% have no drinking water, 62% have no electricity, 49% have no toilets, and 46% have no boundary walls. *    Dismal performance on learning objectives. As far as total education expenditure (public, donors, private) is concerned, the system does not seem responding to the estimates of increased funding because the resources are going in different directions. This is due largely to two reasons. (1) data, policies and budgeting remain isolated (2) Chronic and system wide governance and regulatory issues are not properly managed and monitored, Can you imagine that a national education policy review in hundred percent prime enrolment in next two years is likely to cast rupees 73 billion. There is no management plan to cop with this. In order to ensure effectiveness of public spending in education, it is imperative that each rupee spent on education, needs to contribute to learning achievements of a student. It is not the ministry of education at the federal or provincial levels that can deal with such a gigantic challenge. Political parties need to be at the center stage to steer this quiet revolution at the national level. Above all transparency and accountability is the key to the success of such an ideological change. Talking of ideology, the Nazria Pakistan Trust held a meeting on 24 May under its Chairman Majid Nizami to charter a strategy for the promotion of ideology of Pakistan and the two-nation theory in the entire civil society with the new generation of students and teachers on top of the list. A people cannot turn into a nation without an ideology which you cannot absorb without drinking deep at the fountain of knowledge. Why are we having a problem with the independence of the judiciary and the intervention of the army and the dictatorship of various rulers whether in Mufti or uniform? Why do these misfortunes not take a toll of other nations? Simply because of the awareness of the overwhelming population born out of education that prevents any adventurer from daring to play with the fundamental rights of the people. The next education budget for 2008-2009 is therefore a challenge for the political leadership of Pakistan to transform the dreams of Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam into a reality by adequate allocation to the education sector. E-mail: ikramullah@nation.com.pk