Has Article 25-A Become the Gordian Knot for Pakistan

In 2010, Article 25-A called for ensuring the right to education for all children aged between five to sixteen years by the Constitution of Pakistan under the 18th amendment. In Pakistan, there has been some success in increasing enrollment across the country and the gender gap too has somewhat narrowed down over the past decade. Currently, the gap stands at an enrollment rate of 56% males and 44% females, with an estimated 22.6 million out of school children. This makes one wonder if Article 25-A has become as elusive as untying the Gordian knot.

While the enrolmentin primary schools has gone up, the real challenge is to tackle the high percentage of school dropout rates, as middle and high school enrolment still remains a major challenge.According to the annual report by the Academy of Educational Planning and Management, there are an estimated 5 million out of school children at the primary level, 6 million OOSC at middle and 11 million at the higher secondary level.

There are around 121,674public schools, 2 0,256private schools and 3,899schools run by provincial and regional departments. The 121,674 public schoolsestimated public schools also include mosque schools. As compared to 145,829 primary schools, the number of middle schools is far less, i.e. 4 5,680 (16,457 public, 2 8,818 private and 405 run by provincial and regional departments). The number of high schools on the contrary is even less, i.e. 31,740. Among these 12,277 are public schools, 19,008 private schools and 455 run by provincial and regional departments. We observe a steady decline as we move up the ladder, with an estimated 5,470higher secondary schools, 1,418 degree colleges, and 163 universities. As compared to that we have an estimated 32,272deenimadaris (seminaries)

Establishing and managing a high school is costlier and harder because it requires more qualified and specialized teachers, laboratories, equipment plus there are some other pockets that need to be taken care of, as well for instance children from very poor households, or ones suffering from a disability. Another segment that is vastly marginalized are children of minority communities, which are also often struck with the double jeopardy of poverty.

Another issue is the difference in quality if education at private and public schools. Why would children go to school when there’s no learning or why would parents send their children to schools when they cannot see an output of their investment.

The districts where still there are no schools, need to increase the number of middle and high schools but building more schools is an expensive and time consuming process. But if we cannot bring the schools close, we can bring students closer to them by providing secure transport facility.

The public sector can encourage private entrepreneurs to open up schools in the areas that are under served. Technology meditated interventions might provide a way out for the interim, including gadgets like tablets and computers for online tutoring and support,efficient delivery mechanisms. Through distant learning initiatives Other than that high quality curricula and testing materials, or merit based scholarships can be increased to improve access to education.

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