Atia TariqSaturday, August 31, 2013 - With a population of 18 crores, Pakistan bears the burden of one of the most illiterate countries of Asia. About half of the male population is illiterate and two third of the female population can’t even write their names. Generally, the degree of matriculation classifies a person as ‘literate’. Pakistan’s literacy rate is 58% according to latest survey in June, 2012. In our surrounding region, Pakistan’s literacy rate is a little better than Nepal and Bangladesh, which have literacy rates of 49 and 52 percent respectively. Other likes the Maldives and Sri-Lanka have achieved far more impressive results given that above 90 percent of the population in both these countries is literate. Even India has a 61 percent literacy rate, despite its enormous population. According to literacy rate estimates projected in last year’s National Economic Survey, there seem to be tremendous variance in literacy rates between the Provinces. Baluchistan has the lowest average since only 33 percent of the Province is literate compared to the national average of over 50 percent. Moreover, only 27 percent of women in Baluchistan are literate. This problem of literacy exists both due to broad policy hurdles and some on-ground factors. In policy making, it is the lack of political will, which is evident from the allocation of insignificant amount of budget towards education, delays in the release of funds and institutional inefficiency and corruption. Resultantly, the lack of sufficient infrastructure in the form of school buildings and facilities, low professional capacity of teachers due to the non-availability of proper training, as well as low public awareness concerning the value of education, all contribute towards maintenance of low educational rates at the ground level.