The education sector in Pakistan has been one of the many sectors worst affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. The subsequent lockdowns and surge in cases had pushed students into their homes to gain education through online classes. While some could attend these classes, others – a rather significant number of school-going children – were unable to, owing to the lack of internet facilities and other tools required to learn at home. Different studies published by country’s leading educationists had stated that the loss of two years would push back the education sector of the country by at least five years. One would then think the resumption of classes, following an ease in coronavirus related restrictions would help put the sector back on track and save students from loss of any more years. But a recent media report only states otherwise.
It was reported that at least 1.5 million children in Punjab would miss the college year, owing to a lack of seats in colleges. These students had passed their intermediate exams this year but have no college to accommodate them. A total of two million students had passed the exam but the intermediate public sector colleges – 750 of them – only offer 500,000 students. The rest hailing from 35 rural districts from the province are left at the behest of private colleges that many can’t afford. Such a sorry state of affairs is nothing but gross negligence at the part of the provincial government. It must be noted that all of these public sector colleges are already overstretched with evening classes conducted as well. Most public sector colleges also pay meagre amounts to their academic staff, asking them to take extra load for the same pay, which is unfair. This then leaves no wiggle room for them to accommodate the 1.5m students.
There is no denying the fact that the education sector across the country needs a revival. But it seems that both the provincial and federal governments would rather launch a new single national curriculum than fix the existing issues. Where are these 1.5million students – the very future of this country – supposed to enroll is anybody’s guess. The same report had mentioned that already around one million students in Punjab had left education due to lack of opportunities and other domestic problems. How many more futures is the government going to play with before they realise the importance of an infrastructural overhaul?