Illiteracy poses challenge to country’s democratic, economic stability

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22m children still out-of-schools due to poverty

Besides socioeconomic imbalances and political intolerance, illiteracy has also posed serious challenges to the political and economic stability of Pakistan where about 22 million children were still out-of-schools (OSC) due to poverty. Political experts observed that illiteracy was detrimental to democratic and economic growth apparently due to its potential of creating such an environment, which not only endangers the very existence of the democratic system but also deprives electorates of all fruits promised by a democratic dispensation.

“Democracy mainly suffers due to unawareness of electorates about the importance of politics, their role in a political government and making accountability of political parties through votes due to lack of education,” said Professor Dr A H Hilali, former Chairman Political Science Department, University of Peshawar while talking to APP. He said this lack of education unawareness leads to unwise and imprudent decisions at the time of elections and resultantly, the state, despite having a democratic form of government, remains deprived of the most suitable persons to run its affairs.

Besides wrong decisions and attitudes, he said that illiteracy can also affect democracy by causing a large gap of non-participation in politics by the populace, which may leads to anarchy and derailment of a democratic government as evident in our country’s history. As a result of illiteracy and political intolerance, he said that assemblies did complete five years constitutional term and huge financial resources were being wasted on holdings of re-elections in the country.

According to Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) 2021 survey, about 22.8 million children were out-of-schools (OSC) in the country including 4.7 million children aged between 5 to 16 years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The OSC included 2.9 million girls and one million belonged to merged tribal districts. As many as 74.4 percent of girls and 38.5 percent boys are out of school in the province. Besides 77 percent reported OSC in Palas Kolai, 70 percent in Upper Kohistan and 69 percent in Upper Kohistan, there are reports of about 61 percent of such children in Torghar, 55pc in Shangla, 53 percent in Lakki Marwat and 51 percent each in Tank and Batagram districts.

In merged areas, 66 percent of children are out-of-school in North Waziristan, 63 percent in Bajaur, 61 percent in South Waziristan, 51 percent each in Mohmand and Khyber, and 47 percent each in Kurram and Orakazai and bringing them under school net was necessary to reap all fruits of democracy. Wajid Ali Khan, ANP leader and former Minister said that the highest number of OSC in KP as revealed by BISP has exposed the tall claims of former PTI government regarding decrease of illiteracy, an increase in children’s enrolment in schools and implementation of a uniform education policy.

He said the education sector was devolved to provinces under the 18th constitutional amendment and under article 25-A of the constitution, and that it was the responsibility of the former PTI government that ruled the province for nearly 10 years to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to metric level but completely failed to do so.

He said neither the promises of uninformed education were fulfilled nor the dual education system was abolished in the province while the private schools continued sucking the blood of millions of people with a roaring increase in tuition fee every year while PTI leadership paid a deaf ear to it. To eradicate illiteracy and bring OSC under schools net, the Federal Government under BISP has started Education Scholarship Program to motivate parents to enroll their children and discourage students dropout rate.—APP