Education is the fundamental building block of any country. The aim of education is not just to augment the literacy rate but to compel individuals to think for the betterment of their country. The difference between emerging and developed countries is the quality of education provided to its citizens. While we see students from the Ivy League becoming distinguished professionals, governments in developing countries fail to even provide the primary level education to its people. To discuss the educational policies between Pakistan and other nations, we need to thoroughly understand the constitutional and governmental bindings in Pakistan. It is astonishing that such a significant country like Pakistan held its population census after almost more than a decade so the data available regarding the literacy and poverty lacks credibility. According to the recent statistics, the literacy rate in the country is equivalent to 58%, but the measures used in Pakistan to qualify someone as a literate individual are controversial. Any individual capable of writing his/her own name in English satisfies the criterion of being an educated person which is obnoxious and reflects a complete failure of Pakistan’s subsequent governments to solve the significant issue of increasing illiteracy.
One the other hand, when neighboring countries like Iran, China, India, and Bangladesh are compared, Pakistan is not in an exemplary position. India has a literary rate that exceeds 70%, Bangladesh has a literacy rate of around 60%, and Iran’s literacy rate is beyond 85%. Pakistan’s failure in providing the necessity of education to its people is obvious and there are several deep-rooted underlying issues that form the basis of this bedlam.
There is no doubt that Pakistan has been at the forefront of war against terrorism post 9/11 but there were several international programs by USAID and UN set up to decrease the inequality in terms of educational resources’ being made available to children of different provinces, but the mismanagement and corruption not only wasted the provided funds, but also weakened the confidence of other countries in Pakistan’s ability to deal with the illiteracy crisis.
The American educational system makes it compulsory for all parents to admit their children into elementary school by the age of 5-8 and ending the basic education when the child is 16-18 years old. The age of education differs depending on the state and its jurisdiction. In America, the school system is divided into 3 systems where we initially have the elementary school level which is the foundation of higher studies, the second level of education is middle school which is basically the secondary level of education and the last level of system encompasses the high school after which the undergraduate degrees are later attained.
The budget allocation also plays a significant role in expanding the educational system of a country. An effective allocation of financial resources for the education sector also shows the commitment and sincerity of the state towards resolving the issue of illiteracy in the country. According to 2015’s national budget of the United States of America, the government allocated around $1 trillion on the education sector in different levels. In Pakistan, as a percentage of GDP, the allocation in the budget 2017-18 is 2.5 per cent compared to 2.3 per cent in the budget 2016-17. It was 1.95 per cent in the revised estimates of 2016-17. In India, during 2013-2014, the budget allocation on education was equivalent to 4.57%, while this proportion reduced in the budget of 2016-2017 to 3.65%. The allocation of budget shows the determination and resolve of a state to increase the level of literacy in the country.
One of the major reasons for the slow pace of improvement in Pakistan is the establishment of many unregistered Madaras (religious schools). Several policies tried to bring these religious schools under the umbrella of government so that the process of accountability and improvement could smoothly take place. The governments have failed to consider the number of people who have been admitted to these religious schools and what curriculum has been followed. On the other hand, there are missionary schools in America and other developed nations, but they are accountable to the state and the process is crystal clear which reduces any doubts about the quality of education.
Pakistan’s situation differs from that of other developing or developed nations because the leadership lacks the vision and commitment to any sort of educational goals and there is a fear that widening the thinking horizon of a common man might result in the end of political regimes.