By: Amina Hasan, Karachi
While there is life, there is hope. This could also be said about the alarming situation of illiteracy in Pakistan. There is hope because we could say that Pakistan is inching towards recovery. The statistics indicate that with every passing generation the literacy rate in Pakistan has risen by 10%. Before we discuss the ways to combat illiteracy we need to first figure out what is causing illiteracy. From the deep study in this matter we realize that the major factors influencing illiteracy are: Poverty, feudal system, corruption and beliefs.
To combat illiteracy due to poverty, we have a lot of options. Although handling increasing poverty is usually the issue for the government but everyone can help out. The government is funding public schools with a low fees structure but still the situation of poverty is so grave that many children, instead of attending such schools find themselves jobs to support their families. Child-labour is a well-known issue and sometimes the children aren’t forced by anyone to work but rather the circumstances force them. Instead of making these children leave work, the government can arrange some sort of evening schools for such children.
Every literate person can lend a hand in this issue. We must realize that it’s not only the teacher who has the ability to teach letters to students. We often come across poor people who work for us and don’t have money for school fees. We could always take out some time and teach their children how to read and write. Every drop makes the ocean, so it can be the little but combined efforts of the literate citizens of Pakistan to help eradicate illiteracy from the face of the country.
Apart from that, another method of eradicating illiteracy could be raising awareness amongst the poverty-stricken people. Many live dark lives with no hope of change. For them education is of the least priority because getting a decent dinner is the major concern. It’s the job of the citizens to create in such people awareness that by education they could have a brighter future. Education is a cause that is worth all the turmoil that comes in the process.
Mainly in the rural areas, the feudal system is a major barrier in attaining a better literacy rate. The feudal lords deprive their tenants from education due to the fear of losing their authority over their subjects. This issue can easily be dealt by the government by making education mandatory for everyone in rural areas. The government can also add subjects related to agriculture, farming or livestock, thus encouraging many rural people towards education.
Corruption in various education sectors is also the reason for the decline of the literacy rate. Corruption at a high-level rank of education may not affect the literacy rate because it is only schools that make a person literate or able to read or write. So corruptions in schools can be a disastrous affair. Many a time it has been seen that a school is one from outside but from inside it is divided into many school. Many times the teachers don’t pay the slightest bit of attention to their students or their needs. They feel that they are not being paid enough and thus act in an extremely immoral way.
We must also remember that corruption only occurs due to the evil of man’s desire. To end corruption, we need a major social reform. We need to create an awareness in all the citizens of Pakistan that earning more and more money is not an achievement. Sometimes we need to expand our thinking and let it cover everyone. We need to think of everyone. We need the literate people preaching this phenomenon to such corrupt individuals in the education sector which are not just destroying some people concerned but rather the entire future of the nation.
Apart from that the beliefs, mentalities and mindset of the people also matter regarding education. In many areas people don't send their daughters to school as they believe it is worthless. They believe it’s just a waste of time and money. Some people are brain-washed into believing that education is against Islam. Basically they are following the Muslims who had said this before the independence of Pakistan to stop the Muslims from acquiring British education. At that time the British were quite unfair to the Muslims especially after the War of Independence of 1857. The British believed that the Muslims were the only ones who revolted against them and they took measures against the Muslim community by not funding Muslim schools or madrasahs. The Muslims were thus forced to take British education which was based on Christianity. In return the Muslims announced that getting a British education was not allowed in Islam. But such a concept doesn’t exist in Pakistan. Pakistan has modified the curriculum of the British and Islamized it. Education of Islamiat is made compulsory, thus it is easy to convince the people that the education scenario is Pakistan isn’t the same as that in the British period.
Many people don’t wish their daughters to study in co-educational institutes because they observe the traditional Hijab. Because of that the government has introduced gender segregated institutes. Beliefs could be changed if awareness is raised and that is the job of every citizen of Pakistan.
We must remember illiteracy is something that really needs to be dealt with. A literate person can bring a positive change around him. Literacy helps us understand, tolerate and accept different people. It helps in minimizing the criminal activities and economic growth. If we want Pakistan to be a nation we dream to see, we need to start on, “Mission Illiteracy Eradication”. I have vowed to do my bit and combat illiteracy. Will you join me in this effort too?