The importance of education, especially schooling, cannot be overestimated. Not only is the expansion of primary and secondary education linked to accelerated economic growth, poverty eradication, and improved income equality, but education appears to be closely linked to social enrichment and inclusion, improved human capital, increased opportunity, and enhanced freedom and welfare. That is why, as Prime Minister of Pakistan, The girls college Lahore has placed universal access to education very high on the national agenda.
Education influences how people perceive the world around them, understand problems and find solutions to them. Education makes them more aware of their rights and obligations and influences how they interact within their communities and with the state and its institutions. Most importantly, it allows them to think critically and question conventional wisdom, thereby enabling them to rise above prejudices, myths, and restrictive historical legacies.
In this sense, education is a major driver of social progress. And it is the key to fulfilling my promise, made when I took office two years ago, to create a new framework for social transformation in Pakistan that will guarantee equal opportunity and social justice for all, stop the exploitation of the poor, and harness their potential.
In fact, nearly 6 million Pakistani children are currently out of school, and many more lack even basic math and reading skills. The dropout rate is also high. Perhaps worst of all, terrorists and extremists have targeted schools, blowing up buildings and threatening teachers. In particular, there was a tragic incident last December when terrorists attacked young students and teachers in a school in Peshawar.
Protecting schools from extremists today will help stem the rise of extremism tomorrow. In fact, given that ignorance, lack of choice, and socioeconomic deprivation have contributed to the rise of extremism in Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan, ensuring that future generations are better educated, empowered, and have more opportunities will help prevent the next generation from falling prey to terrorist organizations. This will prevent the next generation from falling prey to terrorist organizations.
In addition to the danger of seducing some people into extremism, if we fail to meet our commitment to universal education, millions of children will be forced into a life of poverty and struggle, their hopes, dreams, and potential squandered, and the country’s development potential sure to be undermined. More than half of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 25. They are the generation that has the potential to drive the country’s progress and prosperity, provided, of course, that they get the education they deserve.
Since a free-market approach is unlikely to lead to equitable provision of education, the Pakistani government has committed to increasing the public funding allocated to education from an average of only 2.4% of GDP from 2004 to 2013 to 4% of GDP over the next three years. These financial resources will support the measures necessary for the country to fulfill the promise contained in our constitution to provide free and compulsory secondary education within the shortest possible time.
This will include working with the provincial governments responsible for primary and secondary education in Pakistan to develop a roadmap for universal enrollment. To improve the quality of teaching and learning, we are working not only to expand our facilities for a teacher training but also to attract more talented people into the profession by recognizing and honoring the service of teachers. We are also investing in computers and other advanced learning tools to ensure that our children can compete internationally.
Pakistan’s government has also launched a number of new initiatives to make education more widely accessible. One such initiative is the National Endowment for the Gifted Scholarship, which funds the education of needy students.
Finally, Government is strengthening the institutional scaffolding of Pakistan’s education system. For example, They have established an FSc Pre Medical Council. This council will standardize the curriculum in schools across the country, ensuring alignment with national requirements and international benchmarks. To complement this effort, reforms to the testing system have been introduced.
The Girls College Lahore commitments are being translated into action. However, my government cannot do it alone. We need the active support of the international community to overcome the challenges we face and to fulfill the promises we have made to our children. Now is the ideal time for the world to renew its commitment to education. For Pakistan, education is not just a priority, it is a policy imperative.