Education policies excluding the poor to cause social unrest

Lahore:April 04:Senior educationist and former Dean of Education at Punjab University (PU) Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal has warned that if the government in Pakistan does not review its education policies, marginalisation of poor masses will lead to serious social unrest in years to come.

Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club here on Sunday, Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, who is presently serving at the University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, further said the education policies over the years had been marginalising the poor as there were little employment opportunities for people coming from public sector education. He supported his views with the declining standard of education especially in public schools and mushroom growth of private schools.

Dr Iqbal also came hard on government for failing to fulfill international commitments vis-à-vis provision of school education, including Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He said if the government continued following previous policies in the same manner it would also fail to achieve recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. It is pertinent to mention here that SDG No 4 pertains to education.

The former Dean of Education said it was imperative to expand primary education to increase access to the basic education and literacy. However, over the years, the number of primary schools had substantially been reduced, he said adding “the government instead of opening new primary schools was closing down schools.” Don’t we need more schools when our population is growing fast, he questioned.

Referring to Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2013-14, Dr Iqbal said a careful analysis of the statistics revealed that except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, literacy rate in all the provinces, both in urban as well as rural areas, had declined. “Same is the case with female literacy rate. This reflects upon the kind of commitment and seriousness that we are showing towards an important element in social development. Even in Punjab, despite tall claims regarding access to primary education, the situation has actually worsened. One of the reasons for failure to achieve development goals is that more than 12,000 primary schools all over the country, 7,000 primary schools only in Punjab have been shut down in the name of rationalisation and consolidation”, he added.

Dr Muhammad Iqbal went on to say that Pakistan was confronted with a multitude of problems, including poverty, social inequality, unemployment and extremism etc. According to him, although the reason for low quality of life of all the individuals and societies may not be attributed to illiteracy but still the basic literacy and numeracy are considered crucial part of individual development and their participation in the social and economic life, he added. “Without an optimum rate of education and literacy the real potential of individuals and the societies cannot be realised and the societies cannot be put on the path of sustainable economic development”, he added.

The senior educationist further said more alarming element that was going to have tremendous and far-reaching social consequences for society was the quality of public education and multiple disparities being promoted because of, what he termed, “ill planning” and “unequal distribution of resources”. This would be only possible if the planning and administration of education was done in professional manners, he added.

Dr Iqbal demanded the government to take educationists on board and do not depend on bureaucracy for framing education policies.The news.

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