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Importance of education in economic development

Education, a strong correlation with economic development
Islamabad, Oct 12: Education is considered to have a strong correlation with social and economic development. In contemporary times when the focus is on the 'knowledge economy' the role of education becomes all the more important in the development of human capital.

After all, a society of literate and skilled citizens has more chances of development at the economic and social levels.

Education can reduce poverty and social injustice by providing the underprivileged resources and opportunities for upward social mobility and social inclusion. Yet, until the National Education Policy (NEP) 2009 was unveiled, the budgetary allocation for education in Pakistan was on the decline.

The lack of political commitment of the state has resulted in multiple educational systems which are inherently discriminatory and biased in nature. A large number of students are unable to attend schools. According to the Education For All Global Monitoring Report (2007), almost 6.5 million children in Pakistan do not go to school. Countries like India, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, Niger, Kenya and Mali are placed in relatively better positions. The only country that has a worse situation than Pakistan's is Nigeria, with more than eight million children out of school.

A large number of students who make it to schools, however, drop out by class five. According to NEP, about 72 per cent make it to grade five which means a dropout rate of 28 per cent. This significant figure further brings down the chunk of the population that makes it to school.

Such a large number of students outside school means that they are deprived of the opportunity to learn and acquire skills for playing a meaningful role in society. Social exclusion is a great loss at the individual and societal levels. Most of these out-of-school children experience poverty and unemployment and some get involved in criminal activities as well. Constitutionally, the provision of basic education to citizens is the state's responsibility. Is the state carrying out its responsibility? The state needs to analyse the reasons be hind the number of out-of-school children. They come from poor families and cannot afford the luxury of education despite their desire for it.

The real issue of educational apartheid comes to the surface only after joining a school. Enrolling in a school does not ensure the provision of quality education. There is one question which is central to quality: what kind of school is it? The answer to this question may include the state of the building, faculty, management, curriculum, textbooks, examination system and medium of instruction as well as the socio-economic background of the children.

The reference to socio-economic background is crucial as schools - like social classes - are stratified in terms of social status. So social exclusion is not only at the access level but also at the quality level. The widening difference between private and public schools is responsible for the gaping chasm between resources and opportunities given to the poor and the rich. Children from elite schools have enhanced chances of employment and social integration whereas children from public schools, no matter how bright they are, are disadvantaged in terms of getting exposure to quality education.

The famous slogan 'education for all' needs to be revisited. Is it sufficient to enrol every child in school? The continuance of disparity and exclusion goes on depending on the quality of the school. Thus the slogan needs to focus on 'quality education for all'. It is the quality aspect which is missing in disadvantaged schools. Instead of taking some constructive measures to improve the conditions the state is taking the easy route of offering private schools as an alternative.

Government officials publicly give statements that public schools have failed and the only alternative left is private schools. I do not intend to underplay the significant role private schools can play in the uplift of the educational system in Pakistan. My only contention is that they are there to complement the system and should not be presented as an alternative to public education.

Education has failed miserably to reduce poverty gaps, social injustice and oppression. The education policy suggests that "the educational system of Pakistan is accused of strengthening the existing inequitable social structure as very few people from public-sector educational institutions could move up the ladder of social mobility".

What action plan has been given in the new education policy to ensure that this won't happen in the future? Simply referring to a problem does not mean that it has been taken care of. The education policy should have given a clear and concrete blueprint to combat social exclusion, inequality and social injustice. The existing discriminatory educational systems are not only perpetuating the socio-economic gaps between the haves and have-nots, they are also responsible for further widening these gaps.

The writer is director of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore School of Economics and author of Rethinking Education in Pakistan. -Shahid Siddiqui

shahidksiddiqui@yahoo.com (Dawn)

Your Comments
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Name: Muhammad Mohsan
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Playgrounds shortage perturbs students, kids
Islamabad: Shortage of playgrounds in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad irked kids and students in different sectors.

The situation forced them to use green areas and residential streets as playgrounds, creating problems for the residents.

Most of the students, aged 12-17, can be seen on green belt in different areas. The civic body has constructed a few parks in different sectors, but these didn't not fulfil the requirements of all the sectors.

The parents of the kids have expressed concern over the lack of playgrounds and urged concerned authorities concerned to construct more grounds in the areas especially for kids.

A physical education instructor told the agency that a child's playground is a place they can retreat to when they want to relax after a busy day at school and their other obligations. He said that it gave them a chance to release some energy and have fun.

"As an adult, you surely know all about the need to escape from the stresses of everyday life," he added .

He said that learning through play was an important process and a fundamental part of a child's development.

"Playgrounds that promote different types of play are vital for a child's cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development, " he added.

He said playgrounds provide crucial and vital opportunities for children to play.

Spokesperson of CDA when contacted said that the civic body had constructed many playgrounds in the federal capital for the residents.

to promote healthy activities like different types of games. He assured that the CDA would construct more playgrounds for students including kids in the city to provide them safe places for exercise and entertainment. The nation

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IBSA awards prizes to outstanding scouts
Islamabad: Participants of a prize distribution ceremony of `Scouts Week' called for reviving the spirit of scouting among students in federal colleges to make them useful and active citizens of the country.

The colourful function was arranged at Islamabad Model College for Boys (IMCB), F-8/4 to award prizes to outstanding scouts of Islamabad Boy Scouts Association (IBSA).

Director General Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) Shaista Pirzada, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said the new generation is well informed about physics, chemistry and other subjects but is drifting away from social and moral values.

"We have neglected the importance of social service and confined the students to just their studies. It is the sole responsibility of the teachers to educate the students about values of sacrifice, caring and sharing," she said adding that teachers must play their role in inculcating real human values of love and brotherhood, and nurture an urge among the students for serving humanity.

She said students are the future of a nation and they must be educated about the historical facts and sacrifices rendered by our forefathers in achieving an independent country.

Shaista Pirzada directed all principals of the federal institutes to conduct scouting activities in their respective institutions. Scouts are well prepared to cope with any natural calamity and disaster but they lack training of swimming, she said and announced that these scouts would be given training of swimming at Sports Complex.

Provincial Secretary IBSA Zahoor Hussain said the Association is playing a dynamic role in training the boy scouts and enabling them to cope with any emergency situation effectively. He thanked different organisations including Anjuman Hilal-e-Ahmar and Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) for their support in training the scouts.

One of the scouts, Ishaque, exhibited his oratory skills in a speech on `Scouting is Service' and stressed on the role of scouting in the character building of the students through inculcating the spirit of patriotism. The collective activities of scouts of different provinces promote a sense of togetherness and kinship, and it is time to renew the scouting movement, he said.

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the first Chief Scout, who believed in the positive role of scouting for physical and mental growth and development of a student's personality.

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Headstart students planted 200 saplings
Islamabad: Almost 30 students from Headstart A-level Branch Sunday started their campaign to plant around 200 trees along the Margalla Road in Islamabad.

According to a press release issued here the students belonged to the 'Planting A Better Future' society.

They worked along with Capital Authority Development (Environmental Department), and were graciously welcomed by Mr Altaf a Forest Officer and Dr Suleman DG Environment.

The club is organised by Maham Faisal Khan also in her first year of A-level's and Mohammad Ibrahim Khan. Although, their aim was to plant fruit trees in villages this project was greatly appreciated, as the club had no funds to put its intentions into action. They plan to spread awareness of environment related issues and create recycling revolution.

The need for such spirit is greatly needed in Pakistan as only 4.8 per cent approximately of its landmass is forested with 1 per cent of this depleting every year. The news


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