The Only Way Out
The Only Way Out
Militancy cannot be fought by the army alone; to fight militancy the two primary areas for interventions are education and creating economic opportunities.
Poverty and lack of opportunities has stifled the education system in FATA.
FATA has been bleeding since ages and no matter what the govt says, it is getting worse. Tribesmen are passing through the worst time in history; they have never been so ravaged and humiliated. No one bothers to even listen to their plight. There is an informal unannounced blockade, journalist, politicians, organisations wanting to help, can’t visit FATA unescorted, which indicates that things are bad, what’s there to hide?
Lack of political will, years of violence and neglect keeps FATA as the least developed region of the country; its social indicators speak volumes of the outright neglect of the area for the last seventy years. 60% of its residents are living below poverty line. Poverty, terrorism and hopelessness, this is all there is to FATA.
Human Development Index is the means to know the prosperity in a country. It includes education, health, economic opportunities etc. A better human resource leads to better economic opportunities and a strong economy. Pakistan is ranked 146 among 187 nations on Human Development Index which speaks volumes of the health of the country.
Education not only leads to greater economic opportunities but also increases productivity of an individual. Pakistan’s literacy rate 57%, remains embarrassingly short of the MDG target of 88% by 2015. Within Pakistan the literacy rate for FATA is a dismal 24.05 percent, comparatively higher for boys (36.6%) than girls (10.50%). Even these figures are doubtful because of ghost schools. Military operations have displaced hundreds of thousands children adding another illiterate generation to the tally. Following the direct relationship between illiteracy and venerability to radicalism, FATA is the ideal place to breed radicalism and terrorism.
Militancy cannot be fought by the army alone; to fight militancy the two primary areas for interventions are education and creating economic opportunities. If the govt is giving terrorism top priority, as it claims, then the litmus test is whether it is investing in these two areas. Whereas the anti development, black law, FCR, will be discussed separately to show how FATA is denied economic development, here the focus is education, where even a marginal increase in funding would make a difference but unfortunately nothing to this effect is seen on ground.
Poverty and lack of opportunities has stifled the education system. Education indicators, literacy rates, enrollment, survival rate to grade 5, dropout rates, transition rate from primary to lower secondary and number of out of school children, are appalling, indicating the need and urgency for meaningful intervention.
Education development is guided by two comprehensive international initiatives, endorsed by an overwhelming majority of governments around the globe. These are the Education for All (EFA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formerly, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). SDG Goal 4 says: Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote life-long learning opportunities. SDG Goal 4.1: by 2030 ensure all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes (Right to Education). SDG Goal 4.2. By 2030 ensure all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so they are ready for primary education (Early Childhood Education). SDG Goal 4.3. By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.
As per Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, provision of basic education is fundamental responsibility of the state: Article 37 (b) of the Constitution clearly describes the importance of education and the constitutional obligation of the state.
Article 25-A, of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan declares education as a fundamental right of the people. "The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of five to sixteen years of age in such manner as may be determined by law." As follow up of Article 25-A, Parliament passed the “Right to free and compulsory Education Act, 2012”, which not only declares education as a fundamental right, but provides penalties for non-compliance. The Provincial Governments have also promulgated similar legislation for free and compulsory education.
To accelerate implementation strategies and ensure maximum progress in achieving MDGs education related goals Pakistan designed a National Plan of Action 2013-2016. Unfortunately NPA met the same fate as all previous plans.
Existing educational Infrastructure in FATA
FATA has an estimated population of about 15 million, though officially it is projected to be 4.700 million from the 1998 population @2.19% growth rate. The 1998 census was as appalling as performance of other govt departments in FATA. Its weaknesses were exposed when more than a million TDPs came out from three tehsils of North Waziristan against a total of 8 tehsils. Prolonged conflict in FATA, coupled with poverty and lack of educational and economic opportunities account for increase in out-of-school children.
To cater for such a large population there are 6060 Government schools, out of which 4344 are functional (2551 boys + 1793 girls), 1145 schools are non-functional (636 boys + 509 girls) and 197 are closed. Around 800 primary schools have been destroyed by militants. For political expediency, we turn a blind eye to ghost schools in the most neglected and inaccessible areas. That’s why there is no count of ghost schools.
Out of the 4344 Functional Institutions, 3027 are Government Primary Schools, 124 are Mosque Schools, 374 are Community Primary Schools, and 37 are IHC Schools, 445 Middle schools, 291 High schools, 14 Higher Secondary Schools, 28 Degree Colleges and 4 Elementary Teachers Education Colleges. At last after 70 years FATA can boast of one university also.
Distribution of Total Enrollment of 600967 students by Stage in Government Schools is:- Pre Primary 95400 or 10 16.0%, Primary (Kachi to Class-5) 420218 or 70.0%, Middle (Class-6 to Class-8) 49264 or 8.0%, High (Class-9 to Class-10) 19301 or 3.0%, Higher Secondary (Class-11 to Class-12) 11396 or 2.0%, Class 13 and Above 5388 or 1.0% .
Total sanctioned teaching staff is 22435 (14957 male + 7478 female) but absenteeism for any reasons has adversely effected even the available resources. Total number of working teaching staff in Government Educational Institutions is 19720 in which 10244 are in primary, 3770 are in Middle, 4675 are in High, 440 are in Higher Secondary Schools and 591 are in colleges (degree colleges and GCETs).
The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) (based on the 5-9 years population) for primary level was 39.18% in 2013-14, female enrollment being lower (29.40%) than male (49.67%). The Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) at primary level is 32.22%, female NER was 23.96% compared to male 41.08%. Both GER and NER are well below the national and KP province and Gender disparity speaks volumes.
Survival rate to grade five is another indicator of efficiency of education system. The retention rate from kachi to Class-5 in Government Primary Schools over a cycle of 6 years is 32% which is way below the national average of 51 percent. 68 percent students dropout from schools in FATA before completing primary education cycle. Girls are more disadvantaged as their retention rate is only 23 percent as compared to boys (39%).
The transition rate from primary to secondary (grade 5 to grade 6) in FATA is only 60% of those who complete grade 5. It is less than that of KP and national average (72%). Girls get less opportunity to attend lower secondary schools in FATA as nearly 67 percent girls who complete grade 5 are unable to continue schooling beyond grade 5.
Irrespective of what the world says or what world standards are, if Pakistan needs peace, Education in FATA has to be a top priority of every govt. Given the gigantic scale of illiteracy in Pakistan in general and FATA in particular, Government has to declare education emergency in true sense. It cannot afford to extend education as a privilege to a certain community.
Besides formal education non formal has to play an important role. Formal education being the education or training received from public/ private schools or colleges. Non-formal education comprises all those educational activities which fall outside the purview of the formal standardized education system. In Pakistan, non-formal education is provided through: Community or home schools; Adult literacy/ functional literacy centers and Deeni madrassah or religious schools.
The major challenges in bringing Out of school children to schools include:
1. Lack of access to education, due to less Resources and improper utilization of what is available.
2. High drop-out rate
3. Corporal punishment in schools.
4. Gender discrimination and Insufficient opportunities for disable children.
5. Poor quality education, no skill development programs.
6. Non awareness of Information Communication Technology (ICT).
7. Health Issues related to parasitic infestations, unhygienic surroundings.
8. Chronic poverty, household chores / Child labor
The Governor KP Province promised Education emergency in FATA to overcome the huge gap between demand and supply. But since then there has been complete silence. Though the people of FATA don’t expect any good from the govt yet this assertion has a direct bearing on the country, peace in Pakistan depends on it. Do we want the tribes men and women to enter the new millennium equipped with education suitable for the changing world or do we want to keep them illiterate and vulnerable to exploitation by the enemy.
The government has to be serious; the only way forward for the country in general and FATA in particular is to establish community schools in emergency. They can be established within weeks, they are cheap, they can be closed if they don’t perform and above all they are accessible, especially to girls. Rather they are gender biased in favor of girls.
Focusing FATA, 2000 Basic Community Schools can be established to cater for the out of school children and improve the quality of education. Broad parameters of the program can be as follows:
1. The school will be established in private building provided by and located in the community for a small rent. The community manages the schools. Staff and school consumables are provided by the govt. it can be made functional in a week’s time.
2. Each school will accommodate up to 100 students and shall be taught by 2 teachers/ volunteers.
3. The schools will be gender free with all teachers being female.
4. Teachers will be qualified volunteers from within the community getting a fixed stipend of Rs. 10,000/ month. They will not be govt servants hence the procedures for recruitment will be simple. The teachers remain volunteers till the school is taken on regular side.
5. Free & Compulsory Education Act 2012 will be extended and implemented in FATA.
6. The quality will be jointly monitored by Government and partners.
7. Partners may either pool and centrally fund the intervention totality or pick one or two agencies and work through a tri-partite partnership of Government- community-donor.
8. The option is cost affective, providing 100% better services at one tenth the cost of existing government institution.
9. The enrollment capacity of existing schools will be increased through active campaign. Communities will also be motivated to control drop out.
10. All teachers will be registered in an online system and the schools will be governed through active use of ICT and GPS technology.
11. Will give an opportunity to children with disabilities (handicapped, polio affected, deaf, dumb, blind etc) to get basic education to cater for the fundamental right of this deprived segment of society.
12. Teacher Trainings to be made more comprehensive, covering modern teaching techniques including health, hygiene and nutritional interventions.
13. Subject to availability of resources, Introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) would be striking incentive both for parents and students. It would be implemented by providing Tablets PCs, internet facility, capacity building training and ICT equipment.
14. Skill based learning or vocational education will be introduced for children where Basic Education Enhancement Program is successfully running as most of the learners are of age 12-16, ready to enter the labor market.. The vocational education will be free for all students. It will be helpful in addressing chronic poverty and discourage child labor by providing income generating opportunities.
The schools will use the existing textbooks and curriculum due to the following:
1. Textbooks and other resources are available
2. Teachers are familiar with the curriculum
3. Formal assessment systems have been developed
4. There is a recognized system of student accreditation in place
5. Integration into mainstream schools is easier
6. It is easier to use the existing Curriculum in its full or condensed form than rewrite another.
The initiative can be taken as a project, which can associate International Development Partners, private sector, NGOs/ CSOs, VDOs, Local government institutions for effective implementation. The project will enhance Basic Education and literacy in inaccessible and hard to reach areas. It will bring out of school children to schools with cost effective quality education, improve retention rate and control drop out. It will enhance income generating capacity of poor families through vocational training, Improve health of children by ensuring immunization, reduce vulnerability and ultimately eradicate extremism and terrorism. This is the only way out of terrorism and there are no short cuts to it.