Out-of-school children – 26 Nov 2022

Multiple challenges over the years have significantly hindered development goals particularly with regard to education

Multiple challenges over the years have significantly hindered development goals, particularly with regard to education. The Covid-19 pandemic posed serious challenges in the form of prolonged school closures, limited access to technology and economic distress. As a result, either many children decided to drop out of school to pursue means of income, or parents were forced to take their children out as they couldn’t afford tuition fee.

In order to combat the rising rate of school drop-outs, the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the World Bank and Global Partnership for Education, has initiated a national workshop for creating pathways to mainstream out-of-school children. This workshop is unique from other previous initiatives as it includes the strategic use of ‘design thinking’ to propose community-based solutions to encourage children to come to school. The workshop will help identifies social challenges as well as critical themes within the wider socio-economic context of Pakistan that are adversely affecting the education sector. This will provide a benchmark analysis as to where exactly focus is required. While this initiative will help build upon the existing structure, it is equally necessary to understand that a strong foundation in the form of adequate infrastructure, top-notch facilities and essential resources are required. Majority of schools across the country cannot offer nutritious meals or clean drinking water. Secondly, education must be thought off as a wicked problem. While reforms will enhance education across the country, government officials must also focus on other development indexes to ensure quality education.

The real dilemma is that during a financial crunch, a family will always prefer having their child earn money to put food on the table rather than letting him receive an education even for free. Curbing inflation, providing employment opportunities for parents and ensuring a healthy school environment are as important as providing educational incentives.

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