In 2000, the United Nations established eight international development goals covering education, healthcare, poverty, gender equality and the environment. The second Millennium Development Goal (MDG 2) was to achieve universal primary education by 2015.
Although there have been some advancements towards achieving universal primary education, many countries are behind and some have even regressed. A recent UNDP paper analyzing MDG 2 reported the net enrollment rate “remains below 70% in at least 15 countries and below 80% in at least 29 countries”. In another 20 countries, the net enrollment rate is decreasing. Pakistan is among those nations that are severely behind in achieving MDG 2 by 2015.
There are numerous political and social factors contributing to Pakistan’s declining progress in the education sector, including the funding allocated to education. Pakistan spends only 2.7% of its total GDP on education. In 2010, the Government of Pakistan established Article 25a of the Constitution, declaring education as compulsory and free for all children aged 5-16 years old. Despite the new policy, Pakistan still suffers from a low literacy rate and a high dropout rate amongst school-age students.
One of the major roadblocks in Pakistan’s progress in the education sector is the severe lack of qualified teachers. The quality of education received is often substandard, particularly in government and low cost schools. Teachers work under poor conditions, often without proper training, and are underpaid with little or no economic mobility. It does not help that on a cultural and social level, the teaching profession ranks low and is thus an undesirable occupation.
Mobilizing more resources towards training and empowering teachers is crucial to improving the quality of education in Pakistan. Leading up to World Teacher’s Day on October 5th, Knowledge Platform launched a social media campaign to show their gratitude and appreciation to Pakistan’s teachers. The campaign published infographics offering advice to teachers as well as visually highlighting the position of teachers in Pakistan. The infographic below provides an overview of the distribution of teachers in Pakistan. It highlights steps that can be taken to improve both attendance rate and quality of education in schools across the country.