Education, not armoury, to guarantee brighter future, say experts

LAHORE:Experts believe education, and not armoury, could guarantee a brighter future for Pakistan. They emphasise the critical importance of equipping our children's minds with education, knowledge, and technological advancements to compete globally and achieve success. They stress that all children, particularly those who are most disadvantaged and deprived, must be enrolled in schools urgently to enhance Pakistan's collective progress and improve education indicators in the country.

In the context of upholding children's right to education, experts highlighted that the battles of the future will not be fought with tanks and artillery but with knowledge and education. Former Senator Sehar Kamran spoke with reporter , emphasising the need for an 'education emergency' declaration and implementation of a National Action Plan on education to promote knowledge among all children across the country.

Sehar emphasised that our constitution guarantees free and compulsory education as a fundamental right for children aged 5-16 and stressed the importance of extending it to 18 years. She also underscored the pressing need to address gender disparities in education, especially in rural areas, through counseling, cultural awareness, and the provision of a secure environment.

Access to quality education, especially for children in remote areas, must be guaranteed, along with basic infrastructure facilities such as clean water and functional classrooms, according to Sehar.

Renowned educationist Professor Dr. Azmat Rubab from Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) highlighted the significance of improving teacher recruitment procedures, providing regular training, and offering competitive salary packages to attract and improve the quality and standards of education.

Dr. Rubab also stressed that financial barriers, such as high tuition fees, should not hinder a child's access to education. Providing financial aid and scholarships to needy students is vital, as education is a right, not a privilege. Additionally, she emphasised the need to develop a curriculum that promotes critical thinking, tolerance, practical skills, and civic values.

To ensure every child's right to education, the state must reflect its commitment in fund allocation at the preliminary level, ensuring that no child is left behind. Dr. Rubab called for equipping young minds for a brighter future.

A recent report from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank revealed that one in six children globally survives on less than $2.15 a day, and the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered progress in eradicating extreme child poverty.

The report's findings pose challenges to the UN's goal of eradicating extreme child poverty by 2030, with a significant number of children in sub-Saharan Africa still living in extreme poverty.

UNICEF reported that Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children, with 23 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. The report also highlighted significant disparities based on socioeconomic status, gender, and geography, with a high percentage of children, especially girls, out of school in remote areas of Sindh and Balochistan.

In response to these challenges, noted educationist and critic Professor Dr. Fakharul Haque Noori emphasized that UNICEF has supported the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to reduce the number of out-of-school children at all levels, focusing on Early Childhood Education (ECE), equitable and quality alternative learning pathways (ALP), and strengthening school-community linkages to reduce drop-outs and ensure education for all students.