Pakistan’s Education System is in Peril

A better and brighter future is possible for Pakistan’s education system when tolerance, peace and tranquility rules the country.

pakistan-education-systemAitzaz Hassan, a 15-year-old student who became a hero after tackling a would-be suicide bomber targeting a school, and Malala Yousafzai, a young girl who defiantly spoke out against the Taliban, are champions of education in Pakistan and will always be remembered for their sacrifices.

Malala raised her voice against the oppression and brutality of the Taliban to protect the right of girls to receive an equal education. Aitzaz sacrificed his life to save the lives of 500 school children.

People will share Aitzas’s brave and selfless tale of martyrdom. The students had no clue that their lives were in danger and never had the chance to meet their silent protector. But just who was that savior and protector? Was that person a police officer or security agent?

Aitzaz Hassan was only a 9th grade student hailing from Ibrahimzai, a suburb of Hungu which is in the vicinity of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The area is known for its lush green scenery, majestic mountains, lakes and natural beauty. Unfortunately, it is plauged with sectarian violence, poverty and lack of education. Poor and middle class people reside in the area but children and parents value education.

The state of education is suffering in Pakistan

Millions of Pakistani youngsters are not in school. A shocking 2012 report ranks Pakistani youth with the second highest truancy rate of school children at 19.75 million (out of 179 million total population).

To further add insult to injury, terrorists and militants repeatedly target schools to instill fear in the hearts of Pakistani children. The militants and Taliban terrorize students and teachers by throwing warning letters near schools that the mixing of genders should not be allowed. If they do not act upon their threats, the terrorists respond with suicide attacks.

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Taliban and other militants blow up schools across Pakistan at night and target teachers during the day. On February 10, three teachers were gunned down in a motorcycle drive-by shooting outside a school in the Kach Banda village. The teacher organizations staged protests and demanded protection from the government. Despite assurances from the authorities, parents and children remain traumatized.

The terrorists want to prevent Pakistani children from acquiring an education

The Pakistani government must proactively intervene to save the declining education sector. According to Islam, “Seeking of knowledge is the duty of every man and woman.” Islam also teaches to “Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China.” However militants continue to target Pakistan’s education institutions.

Conservative and fundamental ideology still reigns supreme in Pakistan along with extremism and terrorism. Yet even then Pakistanis are optimistic about their future. A better and brighter future is possible when tolerance, peace and tranquility rules the country.

Read more about the status of the education system in Pakistan here.

Tariq Hussain writes for the Lahore-based tabloid newspaper, Pakistan Today. He earned a degree in Mass Communication from National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. Tariq started his career in 2010 by joining a news agency, Infochange News and Feature NetworksRead other articles by Tariq.