Illiteracy bomb is ticking!

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Madiha Randhawa

ON Monday, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform announced that a month-long enrolment campaign would be launched on April 1 this year to ensure 100 percent enrolment of children in schools in the next three years and meet the universal primary enrolment targets. Pakistan has already fallen behind to meet the MGD’s target to ensure 80 percent primary enrollment y 2015. The plan is a good initiative but seems too over-confident given the govt. previous record. One can only hope that it is not just wishful thinking and the govt does actually manage to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Recently John Kerry remarked on why Terrorists attack educational institutions in Pakistan? He said “these murderers want to halt Pakistan’s future even before it begins. They’re against knowledge. They don’t want people to make up their own minds or have the right and the ability to be able to learn, read history, read literature, and be able to decide for themselves. They want to deprive young people of Pakistan of the knowledge that they need to compete in a global economy and to build a strong and prosperous and free society” or denied the right to build a future of their own design
Those words could not be more true, our legislators are no less terrorists as they consciously let the neglect prevail an ignorance persist because but because an uneducated, ignorant and powerless majority is convenient for an the powerful ruling class.
Pakistani Media is also to be blamed for the indifference; they are more interested in what outfit Ayyan Ali wore to her court hearing or what Rana Sanaullah’s has to say about Imran Khan’s marital life. The race of sensationalism has totally blinded the media of the most pressing issue. A quick frame analysis of the content shown on TV channels exposes the harsh truth that the proportion of coverage given to education is dismally low. Education can make or break a nation, we as a nation have a habit of procrastinating, but right now we do not have the luxury of wasting time. This homemade bomb of illiteracy is far more dangerous than the nuclear bomb.
Education is the antidote to most of the country’s problems and it’s the lack of education that makes a society victim of intellectual deficiencies that our nation never fails to exhibit. The evils of extremism, sectarianism, terrorism and intolerance breed from illiteracy. Education liberates a mind; enable one to decide between right and wrong and design a future of his/her own choice.
Pakistan needs an Education emergency more than anything. It would be criminal to overlook the urgency of the matter. Pakistan’s total spending on education hardly accounts for the 2.5 percent of the budget. The disinterest is upsetting; we have the future of an entire country at stake. The government recently vowed to increase it to 4 percent but the efforts have to increase manifold. We have already let the neglect prevail for too long more than anything Pakistan needs an educations emergency,
The time’s come to stop taking the tranquilizing drug of “gradualism” and hoping that one day things will magically change by an unseen force of nature.We basically need a paradigm shift. We have to rethink our priorities. If we have to survive in this Darwinian world where “survival of the fittest”is the only law and stand tall among the league of nation, we have to make education our top priority, Period.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.