Education is a vehicle of nation-building through which a nation’s shared interpretation of history and cultural values are reproduced across generations. At the country level, education means strong economic growth due to productive and skilled labor force. At the individual level, education is strongly correlated to higher returns in earning and a more informed and aware existence. The emerging global scenario offers immense opportunities and challenges, and only those nations can benefit from it which has acquired knowledge base and skills.
Currently, adult literacy rate is 5 percent; net enrollment at the primary level is 52 percent. Pakistan has previously neglected investment in human capital and thus fosters a persistently high population, deceleration of growth and overruling poverty. In education, the problems are low level of enrollments not only at the primary level, but also at the middle, secondary, and higher education level along with poor quality of education.
The Government of Pakistan has taken several policy and program initiatives to achieve these international goals since then. The National Plan of Action for education for all was initiated in response to the commitment made at Dakar for World Summit. The Education Reform Action Plan (ESR), which is built upon the National Education Policy 1998-2010, is a long term plan, with three yearly action plans. The ESR addresses the development of the overall education sector through investment in rehabilitation of schools, improving curriculum and assessment reform system, an adult literacy campaign, mainstreaming the madaris, a pilot school nutrition program and technical stream in secondary school.
Three main goals that are the underlying objectives of all these programs and initiatives include universal access to primary education by increasing the net enrollment and higher rate of survival of children till grade 5, increase in the adult literacy rate and to attain gender equality at all levels.
Pakistan still has to go long way to reach the targets and until and unless education is given the due priority that it deserves in the policy framework and allocation of financial resources this sector will continue to show weak performance in the coming years.