When Tony Blair (former British Prime Minister, 1997-2007) stated, “Education is the
best economic policy there is.” He was right. In this modern era, when we analyse
the economy of a country, we ultimately accept that in the long run the main cause of
economic instability is a lack of modern and proper education. Decades of research confirm that increased investment in education leads to increased economic growth. According to the World Bank, education is a human right, a powerful driver of development, and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and
improving health, gender equality, peace, and economic stability.
As per the recent OECD report, providing every child with access to education and the skills needed to participate fully in society would boost GDP by an average 28% per year in low-income countries and 16% per year in high-income countries for the next 80
In the case of Pakistan, the current literacy rate is 62.3 percent, which means that around 80 million people in the country cannot read or write. If the same rate continues, is it adequate to cope with the Potential economic challenges of Pakistan? This article delves into Pakistan’s economic policy concerning education, the structure of the current educational framework, optimal methods for enhancing the quality of our educational system, and ultimately, it concludes with a discussion on how education can serve as a catalyst for economic prosperity in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Educational Economic Landscape
The current education system of Pakistan is flawed, lacking clear direction, coherence, and a strong focus on practical skills. This has led to a significant unemployment crisis and has contributed to political, social, economic, and cultural upheaval among the population. Moreover, our education system has underutilised science and technology. Students struggle to cultivate critical thinking, creativity, imagination, logical reasoning, experimentation, innovation, and invention. These issues need to be addressed by the government to foster prosperity and alleviate disparity but unfortunately, our system is not even serious and determined to bring about positive changes.
One can gauge the government’s commitment to enhancing a sector by examining
its investments in that area. When considering our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, more specifically, the allocation of funds for education, it appears that the
Government of Pakistan is not prioritising what is truly invaluable. According to the
Pakistan and Gulf Economist, in 2021-22, the government of Pakistan spent only
1.77% of GDP on education-related expenditure at both the federal and provincial
levels.5 We are spending the lowest amount of money on education as compared to
other countries in the region, and trying to ameliorate the future of our country.
A saying in Chitrali dialect fits this dilemma which speaks of keeping a child silent
without breaking the bread.6 Pakistan is devoid of improvement in its educational
sector due to an outdated set of plannings and primitive bunch of ideas. At the
heyday of modernization and amid battle of knowledge, we are spending the least on
education–which has the potential to act as a root cause to surging economic stability and can leave a perennial impact on our better decision-making capabilities. The minimum reserved budget (for education) is mostly utilised according to the Article 25-A of the constitution of Pakistan which ‘guarantees the provision of free and compulsory education to all children aged 5–16 years in such a manner as may be determined by the law’.
In my view, article 25-A does not fulfil the current demand of today’s marketplace challenges as education without quality is worthless and probably a complete waste of resources. By looking at the current public sector schools and colleges we can infer that the word ‘quality’ is missing. The Article 25-A should be rewritten in a way that this ‘guarantees the provision of free, compulsory, and ‘quality’ education to all children aged 5-16 years in such a manner as may be determined by the law’.
The Current Educational Framework
Educational framework is a design of teaching learning process, starting from the
basics till graduating. The framework of the education system in Pakistan is not
satisfactory and it doesn’t fulfil the needs of the modern world: Our primary schools
don’t provide standard and a conducive learning environment for children to
strengthen their premise of knowledge and skills. Looking deep into private and
public schools in our country enables us to understand how the public schools are
devoid of proper planning and a long lasting vision which ends up with a major shift
of masses toward private facilities. This shifting of minds compels parents not to
admit their children in the public sector schools, if they want a sound base for their
Parents who aim to provide their children with a competitive edge tend to opt for private schools. Children who are studying in public schools face various problems from their childhood including punishment, scolding, and poor facilities. This inadequate primary school management has resulted in a noticeable lack of discipline within educational institutions, consequently contributing to a significant increase in student dropouts. This problem has escalated to the point where Pakistan currently has 4 million out-of-school children due to dropout rates. This trend is partly due to punishment in schools, poor motivating or unattractive school environment and partly due to the redundant studying methodologies. In Pakistan nearly 10.7 million boys and 8.6 million girls are enrolled at the primary level and this drops to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level. Although primary level is the toughest phase, some students fortunately appear to be in the high level owing to their personal efforts and passion.
This is the phase where students get familiar with the startling techniques of reading in Pakistan, cramming and memorising concepts word by word without even knowing Their meaning. Towards the end, students’ abilities to rote learn are assessed at the cost
of their conceptual understanding. Ultimately, with the help of grading, the education
system becomes successful in segregating students in different categories without
inculcating in them the necessary skills and attitude to positively contribute to the
As soon as they reach the intermediate level, some of them declare themselves as
losers and some of them still try to do something, believing in the idiom ‘hard work
always pays off’. For example, when I was in FSC I was reading my course book of
computer sciences and one of my teachers said, ‘this is the same book that i read 10
years back during my schooling’. Imagine a system which is almost a decade older,
in terms of modern knowledge and information, and after going through such a book
you have to compete with the rest of the world.
With this quality of education how one can hope for a better future ahead? Thanks to the private educational institutions which are fighting tooth and nail to prepare the upcoming generations for their future. Everyone cannot afford private institutions therefore, we have to look deep into our educational system for optimal amendments.
The Optimal Approach Towards Educational Excel
There are many ways to solve the current predicament of education: The first approach could be putting the word ‘quality’ in the constitution and implementing it as may be determined by law. Secondly, if the government is not able to change its constitution, it may privatise all its institutions. If both of the approaches are difficult then the simplest way is adopting the existing educational systems which satisfies the expanding market demand. Looking up at those already established systems which are producing the most productive and successive students, we can shape our educational system accordingly. In this context, Finland has the best educational system in the world due to its unique research based techniques and intriguing ways of teaching-learning process.
Finland, a small Nordic country in Northern Europe, is garnering international attention for its remarkable education system. Over the last two years, it has consistently ranked at or near the top of global education rankings. What makes Finland’s education system so unique is their research based future planning and determination of bringing about change. The system is distinct for its lack of minimum mastery criteria and national exams, embracing automatic promotion and holistic learning. Teachers have autonomy to create their curricula and assessments, focusing on understanding and application over grades. Government intervention is minimal, and at 18, students take a matriculation exam for college, though many enter the workforce. This system has ranked Finland among the world’s best, notably surpassing the United States and other nations in reading, maths, and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, marking an impressive transformation from a little-known agrarian country.
The results of Finland’s educational system were unprecedented: Almost 23.93% of students graduated from high schools, which is more than the United States. Moreover, 24.66% of high school students went on to further education (college or vocational courses) and Just under 100% of 9th-grade students in Finland went on to high school including most of the severely disabled children. (smithsonian.com) Although there are many more reasons behind the economic stability, the education system is considered as the main cause due to which Finland’s economy is flourishing day by day. The educational exports have grown 49% in the last five years, according to Education Finland. The country was also the first European Union country to develop an official Artificial Intelligence (AI) strategy, which is expected to have a significant impact on its economy.
A robust education system is a fundamental requirement for every nation across the globe. Education is one of the most important investments a country can make for its future economic growth. Through education a country improves its technology, knowledge base and more importantly it gives birth to creative people with logical ideas. The entire administrative structure of a nation, comprising both its legislative and executive branches, is managed by a group of highly intelligent individuals. Talking on a societal level, it is a powerful agent of change, improves health and livelihoods, and contributes to social stability.
Moreover, quality basic education gives children and youth the knowledge and skills they need to face daily life challenges, and take advantage of economic and lifelong learning opportunities. It empowers women and girls, promotes gender equality, and helps reduce discrimination against women which ultimately leads to the prosperity of a society and, in a broader sense, wellbeing of a country. In a nutshell, education plays a vital role in a nation’s advancement by cultivating a skilled workforce, alleviating poverty, encouraging gender equality, nurturing societal stability, and fuelling sustained economic development. Consequently, education stands as the best economic strategy, particularly for developing nations like Pakistan. It is imperative that the government prioritises education as a catalyst for economic growth and national prosperity.