The Poorest Students Were Forced Out of Education During The Pandemic In Pakistan

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Lets Talk Education Poorest Students Pandemic Podcast
BoloJawan

Everyone – we all – suffered to varying degrees when the pandemic took the world under its unwelcome fold in 2020. However, this crisis, although global, neither equally impacted everyone nor was it gender-neutral. For developing countries such as Pakistan, where 24.3% of the population or 55 million people live below the poverty line, the pandemic’s spill-over was particularly notorious for the children – and from among children, those who hailed from the most under-served backgrounds.

No school, limited to no remedial support at home, a year and a half worth of learning lost to the pandemic. These are just some of the most salient issues that defined students’ experiences between 2020 and 2021 in Pakistan.

But given Pakistan’s historical experience with emergencies, these findings do not come as much of a surprise. In the aftermath of any calamity – whether human-made or natural – the lack of disaster preparedness within the country’s education system has always been an unhappy constant.

The question then is not so much as to how the pandemic impacted the learning of Pakistani children but more so if there is any turning back from the damage that has already been done.

Also Read: Let’s Talk Education: Guests Speak Their Heart Out On Education, COVID & Reforms

“It’s really about setting the priorities right, and education right now is unfortunately not a national priority,” shared Moiz Hussain, Regional Advocacy Manager (Asia), Malala Fund during his recent participation in Bolo Jawan’s podcast, Let’s Talk Education. “The government needs to take a lead, declare an education emergency, and put into gear a well-thought-through five-to-ten-year plan. Once a plan is in place, the government will be in a much stronger position to solicit the support of non-state actors such as NGOs, the donor community, and corporate entities to plug the technical (and financial).”

Despite being host to the second largest population of out-of-school children in the world, Pakistan currently does not have a nationally owned plan of action to live up to its constitutional promise of providing free and compulsory education to every child between the ages of 5 and 16 years.

Students from marginalized socio-economic backgrounds are further expected to take a hit following the economic recession and inflation that has arrived on the heels of the pandemic.

The government needs to step up and go the extra mile to curtail drop-outs during this financial crisis. “True that education in government schools is free. However, apart from the tuition fee, there are many other expenses such as stationery, uniform, and children’s lunch that poor families can simply not afford. The constitutional promise of free education demands that there should be no financial burden on the parents at all,” added Zehra Arshad, National Coordinator for Pakistan Coalition for Education who was our second podcast guest.

Click on the playlist below to catch the full conversation.

You can also watch shorter snippets on our Twitter, or Instagram handles.

Let’s Talk Education is produced in collaboration with Pakistan Coalition for Education. For regular updates on their work, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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