Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan: Right to education-The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law. Unfortunately, the government of Pakistan has not been able to keep its promise of providing free education to all school-age children. The total number of out-of-school children in Pakistan has increased to more than 22 million and approximately 19 million of them are involved in child labor.
While the lockdown has taken aback most people by the unprecedented amounts of restrictions it has placed on their mobility and the constant surveillance it has led to, there is one segment of the society that isn't completely unfamiliar to this way of life and that is women and girls. For women & girls, especially living in a country like Pakistan, life has always entailed heavy restrictions on mobility, monitoring of their whereabouts and being constantly told that the world outside the house is unsafe for them. Due to a combination of these socio-cultural barriers and governance failures, over 12.6 million girls in Pakistan were already out of school before the global pandemic broke out.
According to the International Legatum Prosperity Index 2018, Pakistan's education system ranks at 124 out of 149 total countries. The easiest explanation often offered to understand the flailing condition of the country's education system even after 72 years of its inception, is the lack of education bureaucracy's willingness to increase the GDP spending percentage as per the global standard. While there is not a shadow of doubt about the validity of that argument, the crisis at hand is much more profound and expansive; ghost schools, unavailability of transportation services, absence of basic amenities in schools, corruption, private school mafia, prohibitive school fees, lack of teachers (specially female teachers) and their appropriate training and corporal punishment are only few of the maladies that the country's education system continues to grapple with.
In 2017-18 budget speech, the Sindh government announced that it will increase the education budgetary allocation from Rs 163.1 billion in 2016-17 to Rs 202.2 billion. Despite this increase, the condition on the ground is shoddy with poor infrastructure and serious governance issues. PCE developed a plan to engage district administration, local government representatives, school management committees, head teachers, community members and other key stakeholders to identify the root causes of the deteriorating education situation in the province.
Education is essential for the development and growth of a society. It is a fundamental human right and is a crucial means of realizing other human rights. Education empowers, emboldens and provides opportunities to promote equity and quality of life. It plays a pivotal role in every individual's life by teaching them how to think, how to function as a productive citizen, developing skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights and be mindful of the obligations of the governments, duty bearers and right holders.