The overall literacy rate in Pakistan tumbled down from 60 percent in 2012-13 to 58 percent in 2013-14 according to the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM) carried out by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics from August 2013 to June 2014.
During that same period the four provincial and federal governments spent Rs537.6 billion or 2.1 percent of GDP on education. But billions often lose their way and end up littering ownerless fish trawlers and basements in Pakistan.
Poverty, however, remains a hurdle. According to the same survey two out of every 10 children did not attend school, finding education too expensive.
In Sindh the percentage of educated people dropped by four percent – to 56 percent – in 2013-14 while the provincial government spent Rs106 billion on education. It is reported that there are 4,540 non-operational and 2,181 ghost schools in Sindh and during 2013 alone over Rs200 million were successfully claimed by ghost employees in the provincial education department.
A petition filed in the Sindh High Court put the number of ghost teachers in Sindh to be around 40,000.
According to a report, ‘25 Million Broken Promises: The crisis of Pakistan’s out-of-school children’, shared at the National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) in October 2014, around 25 million children between five and 16 years of age were out of school and almost 85 percent dropped out before reaching the higher secondary level.
Around 13.7 million – ie 55 percent – were girls and 11.4 million or 45 percent of the out-of-school children were boys. Different surveys have also shown that children from poor families are far more likely to be out of school.
Governments cry that money is scarce. Reality tells otherwise. Literally thousands of billions of rupees have been looted in corruption since the mid-1970s. The loot, particularly during the last eight years, has spread to such massive and blatant levels that even African countries appear to be lagging far behind us.
In reality there is an abundance of people’s money lying with the corrupt. On December 13, 2012 the then chief of NAB Admiral (r) Fasih Bokhari revised his estimate of daily corruption in Islamic Republic of Pakistan as Rs13 billion a day and Rs5 trillion a year.
From 2008 to 2013 loans amounting to a horrifying Rs8.136 trillion were obtained by the then government. Resultantly Pakistan’s debt rose from around Rs. 6 trillion to over Rs. 14 trillion. During the same period nearly half (48.6 percent) of the country’s population suffered food insecurity as was confirmed in a report titled ‘The state of food security in Pakistan’ sponsored by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and released on June 2, 2010.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar vowed in the National Assembly on August 23, 2013 to ascertain how those trillions were spent. He also revealed on May 9 last year that $200 billion of Pakistan were stashed in Swiss banks. We never heard him enlighten us on the subject ever after.
This, however, does not mean that those lost trillions ceased to exist. Just like the underestimated Rs230 billion of black money generated annually in Karachi those trillions apparently have been stashed and invested in safe havens at home and abroad.
It has been far too long now that the corrupt have remained sacredly free. Countries are not run like this. All the looted trillions belong to the people and country of Pakistan and must be recovered and spent on them.
Instead of forever crying and begging for international loans it’s time for the state to recover looted national wealth and spend it on different sectors of socio-economic development. The state should empower the FIA more to not only nab the corrupt but also to recover from them the looted national wealth to help educate the children of Pakistan besides spending on other socio-civic-environmental development and protection.
There should be an Education Motivation Programme to motivate children and their parents for continuation of education after the primary school level. Students in the most socio-economically backward of areas should be selected. The proposed programme should have a fund to provide one thousand rupees per month throughout the year to selected students via especially issued ATM programme cards.
Furthermore, one more thousand rupees every month should be deposited in students’ accounts throughout the year. The students should be authorided to draw the accumulated total of those other monthly deposits of one thousand rupees from their accounts only at the beginning of the new education year meaning they would get a total of Rs12,000 at the start of the new education year besides getting 1,000 rupees every month throughout the year. The students should only be able to draw the amount upon providing their enrolment into the next class.
Providing money for the programme should be the responsibility of the FIA which would have to create and maintain a reservoir of financial resources for the programme’s fund by recovering the looted billions and trillions of this country. Initially one million children could be targeted which would require a monthly flow of Rs2 billion, annually Rs24 billion besides the money needed for administrative costs.
The programme should be run under an independent federal authority with an overseeing panel of credible and honourable retired judges, journalists and prominent social personalities. The money for not just one million but for all the students of government schools could easily be arranged every month keeping in view the limitless scale of the loot.
There’s no dearth of money with the likes of those who embezzle funds kept for development and governance, squat land belonging to the state and its people, take away water meant for the people, steal jewellery given for the destitute, drive away with the ambulances donated for the ill and dead and eat up money allocated for orphans’ food.
The only thing been missing is a genuine resolve to recover the looted trillions of this ‘poor’ nation.