Federal and provincial governments should consider importance of ‘the school experience’ in their strategy to enroll and retain children in schools.

The 25 million out-of-school children in Pakistan face insurmountable hurdles on their journey to education. More than half (57%) of them come from the poorest homes in the country and thus, are only able to attain education via public schools.

To assess the magnitude of the education obstacles, here are some statistics. Around 65% of government schools have no boundary walls, 55% of them operate in dilapidated structures, 58% have no toilets and 64% have no running water. Further, there is just one teacher for every 37 children in Pakistan and on average, 18% of government school teachers are absent from their class rooms every day.

The responsibility of enrolling out-of-school children lies with the governments, and it is imperative for chief ministers and provincial ministers to focus on ‘the school experience’ when it comes to education.

Why are children out of school?

Poverty and other problems at home play a major role in keeping children out of schools but the biggest hurdles are outside the home, which are impossible to overcome without the government’s help.

Are we investing enough in the education of our children?

Pakistan’s current education budget does not cover the nation’s educational needs. The most worrisome aspect of the current education expenditure is the high proportion of teachers’ salaries, leaving little for non-salary expenditure.

Why is the quality of education in Pakistan so poor?

Government school teachers are often perceived as unimaginative and inefficient. In most cases, teachers do not receive training for years. There are no accountability measures in place either.