Education within rural areas is a concept that is slowly gaining traction within the Pakistani Society. However, due to the stigmas attached to the provision of education within the country’s rural areas, government officials and private organizations have found it a daunting task to convince people to support educational reforms. Educational institutions are a breeding ground for any civilization. Pakistan’s educational crisis is well known internationally. Pakistan is lagging far behind its South Asian neighbors particularly due to the visible discrimination faced by the rural educational institutes since the majority of the population resides in villages.
There are several reasons why people residing in rural and sub rural areas are reluctant to receive an education
Prevalence of Feudal Systems within Sindh and Punjab
While the rest of the world in light of the industrial revolution and recent technological developments has moved on to urbanized living systems Pakistan, being an agro-based economy relies heavily on agriculture and farming as a means of sustenance. Feudal systems in Pakistan promote a powerful group of individuals who are politically powerful landowners. Feudal systems in Pakistan propagate wadera system, a system that is responsible for creating discrimination within the two social classes of Pakistan. These feudal lords in an attempt to maintain the status-quo do not let their subjects get an education. A provision of education might enlighten the masses, which will reduce their labor and subsequently mitigate their control over the masses. Thus education within rural areas faces the greatest barriers from the ruling elite themselves.
Lack of Education budget
The government is not willing to invest heavily in meeting the education budget requirement for the masses and the menial amount that does get approved for education-based projects either goes to waste on non-feasible and unproductive projects or it goes into the hands of corrupt officials. Lack of proper disbursement channels for these funds also leads to the money getting wasted. Moreover, the finances that are meant for improving rural schools in the first place never reach the required people. There is little to no check and balance for the finances that flow into these channels.
Child labor is more lucrative to families than education
One of the most dominant stigmas is that of child labor. Pakistani parents residing within rural areas prefer to have a large number of children, to have a greater amount of sons who would in turn help in running the financial affairs of the household. To feed such a large family the children are forced to work, which takes the education away from them. Many individuals see the short term benefits of earning a menial amount of money rather than investing in the education of their children. To them, education is a mere wastage of time and their already limited resources. People prefer to maintain the status quo, which is predominant since earlier times. These generation wise trends of preferring employment over education results in lower literacy rates in rural areas.
Lack of infrastructure
Another factor resulting in poor rural literacy rates is the absence of a power supervising the schooling system in villages. Most of these schools have improper buildings with dismal facilities. Schools lack basic amenities such as chairs and tables forcing children to sit under trees on the ground. Moreover, schools lack appropriately educated faculty, and in rare cases when faculty is available most people don’t want to go to rural areas to teach. So to get proper education most children have to be sent to cities. This is very troubling for the rural population as it bears additional expenses such as traveling and residing. They believe sending their children to big cities would result in the degradation of their moral values. They would rather have the children stay with them and work on farms than send them to cities where they would lose all their moral values.
Lack of educational reforms for women
Female education is a sensitive topic to discuss in Pakistan. Even in cities, the stigma surrounding the female population is present. While in rural areas this stigma has reached a point that the literacy rate for males is 64% while that of females is 14%. Society has not yet evolved to a point where female education would get equal importance. people in rural areas believe education opens the mind of girls and results in problems in their future marriage. They believe women should stay at home and support the males of the house whether by doing home chores or by providing a helping hand in farm work. This results in most girls not going to schools and child marriages. the cycle reiterates and they don’t encourage their children to go to school.
Measures to take to reduce stigmas
A lot is already being done to rectify these problems. Some NGOs are stepping in where the government was unable to act. NGOs like Alif Ailan – a nonprofit organization has launched the “parent itehad” that brings communities together to work with rural support programs at the union council. Community activists are reaching out to these villages and teaching these students. Many universities now have outreach programs where students go to villages and teach some basics to children and try to provoke their interest in education. Some steps that the government can take include making education compulsory for everyone until at least the intermediate level, holding events in villages to educate people, and building more schools with proper faculty employed. Teachers can be appointed on rotations in between villages and cities. Mandatory posting of teachers can be done as doctors are posted in rural areas.
If we all act together as a community and hold hands to move forward towards higher literacy rate a simple effort by everyone to provide standardized education to villages and ensuring proper attendance in all village schools. We must take steps in order to break down the stigmas that surround education in rural areas.
Written By: Dr. Dawar Khan
About the Author
I am Dr Dawar Khan graduate of Shalamar Medical college. Currently working as a PG trainee in ENT, I have cleared PLAB and now working on my way to UK. Hobbies include watching seasons and reading novels.