More than 9 million children are out of schools in Punjab, which is Pakistan’s biggest province in terms of population.
Out of those 9.2 million children, about 5.03 million of them are girls and the remaining 4.17 million are boys. Instead of ensuring that their future is secured, the government has prioritized spending money on Metro Bus and Orange Line projects instead.
These numbers are embarrassing for Pakistan, which now sits at the second spot in UNICEF rankings for having the most out-of-school children worldwide. If that wasn’t enough, Punjab is now considered as the province with the most out-of-school children worldwide. Only Nigeria has more children out-of-schools than Pakistan.
The alarming statistics were revealed by UNESCO education specialist Rubina Nadeem in a seminar on “Equity in Education Financing, Inferences, Moot Points and Policy Asks.”
Senior Research Fellow Ahmed Ali told that 47% of the children between 5-16 years of age are out of schools in Rahim Yar Khan alone.
Currently, 11.5 million children go to public schools in Punjab, according to the Chairman Eng Qamarul Islam Raja of Punjab Education Foundation (PEF). Apart from that, another 3 million children study at the schools supported by PEF.
Given these numbers, around 40% of the children in the province are deprived of basic educational needs. To improve this abysmal state of affairs, Islam Raja added that the government will allocate Rs 400 billion in the upcoming budget for education.
Rubina Nadeem told that poverty is one of the biggest factors behind this huge number. Punjab’s poverty ‘headcount ratio’ currently stands at 31%. She added that the government is facing challenges like gender inequality, ethnicity, geographical location etc which is further making it difficult to educate children in Pakistan’s most populous province.