Pakistan half a century behind world in basic education, says UN report

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Staff Report/Agencies

LAHORE: Pakistan is at least 50 years behind in its primary and 60 years behind in its secondary education targets, according to the UN Global Education Monitoring unesco-logo 10Report, 2016.
The report was released by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The target world leaders set for all children to have at least a primary education by 2030 will likely be missed if current trends are to continue, the UNESCO report warned. The report further said chronic under-funding in the education sector is a crucial factor deterring nations from achieving the target.
According to the report, the literacy rate of males in rural areas from the low-income bracket in Pakistan is 64 per cent, compared to 14 per cent for their female counterparts. The report further said in Pakistan, only about 10 per cent of poor children completed lower secondary school, compared to 75 per cent of rich children in 2014.
The deadline on universal education was agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an ambitious plan to end poverty, hunger, advance equality and protect the environment. According to UNESCO, education is key to every aspect of sustainable development, including achieving increased prosperity, better health and greater gender equality as well as bringing violence under control.
Achieving universal upper secondary education by 2030 in economically challenged countries could lift 60 million people out of poverty by 2050, the report further argued. The GEM report said conflict is one of the greatest obstacles in making quality education common, keeping over 36 million children out of school. Around 263 million children are currently out of school globally, it said, adding almost 30 per cent of children from the poorest households in underdeveloped countries have never been to school.
The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESC0, shows the potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). It also shows that education needs a major transformation to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet.
There is an urgent need for greater headway in education. On current trends, the world will achieve universal primary education in 2042, universal lower secondary education in 2059 and universal upper secondary education in 2084. This means the world would be half a century late for the 2030 SDG deadline.
The Report, Education for people and planet, shows the need for education systems to step up attention to environmental concerns. While in the majority of countries, education is the best indicator of climate change awareness, half of countries’ curricula worldwide do not explicitly mention climate change or environmental sustainability in their content. In OECD countries, almost 40% of 15-year-old students only have basic knowledge about environmental issues.
“A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. “Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together.”
Education systems must take care to protect and respect minority cultures and their associated languages, which contain vital information about the functioning of ecosystems. But the Report shows 40% of the global population are taught in a language they don’t understand.
Education systems need to ensure they are giving people vital skills and knowledge that can support the transition to greener industries, and find new solutions for environmental problems. This also requires education to continue beyond the school walls, in communities and the workplace throughout adulthood. Two-thirds of all adults lack financial literacy; 37% of adults in EU countries attended adult education in 2011. Only 6% of adults in the poorest countries have ever attended literacy programmes.
“If we want a greener planet, and sustainable futures for all, we must ask more from our education systems than just a transfer of knowledge. We need our schools, universities and lifelong learning programmes to focus on economic, environmental and social perspectives that help nurture empowered, critical, mindful and competent citizens,” said Aaron Benavot, Director of the GEM Report.

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