THIS is apropos of the photograph (Sept 9) which showed Japanese students studying in a gymnasium which has temporarily been transformed into a school.
The reason is that the Japanese government has made evacuation mandatory for the people residing within the 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant but not at the expense of ‘imparting education’.
It won’t be wrong to say that Japan’s progress is linked with its apt and well-regulated educational system. Sixty-six years ago, after the deadly nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan allowed foreign involvement in all other sectors of the country except for ‘education’.
From that day a uniform education system has been enforced over there cutting at the root of educational disparity and uneven opportunities. According to the latest Global Competitiveness Index, the quality of education system in Japan has been ranked 36th out of 142.
On the other hand, the quality of education system in Pakistan has been ranked 79th by GCI. Pakistan’s flood crisis had damaged more than 10,000 schools, affecting several million pupils and required massive investment in a nation already
struggling with lower literacy rate.
The schools which endured the torrential monsoon rains were transformed into refugee camps. Education standards are poor in much of Pakistan, particularly in the most impoverished rural areas worst hit by floods. Primary school enrollment is
around 57 per cent and government expenditure on education accounts for just 2.1 per cent of GDP.
The overall adult literacy rate is 57 per cent and Pakistan has three years to meet a Millennium Development Goal target of 88 per cent. However, many of the flood-affected areas have far worse rates — for example, in rural parts of Balochistan women’s e literacy is as low as seven per cent.
Unfortunately, no provincial government has proved itsr efficacy with regard to educational progress. This can be justified by the fact that Punjab will be able to provide all the children with their constitutional right to education by 2041 (the province with the highest literacy rate), whereas Balochistan will be able to do the same not before then 2100 (the province with the lowest literacy rate).
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani once stated that “education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan”. I would like to add that Pakistan requires a ‘Japanese educational spirit’ in this regard.
This was originally published in Dawn newspaper, September 25, 2011.