Over the centuries and many political systems, various stakeholders have partnered to support the development of basic education throughout the developing world. Only very little progress has been made in increasing the number of children enrolled in schools through these public and private efforts. There are millions of children around the world who are not enrolled and who do not complete school.
A lot of evidence in the academic literature suggests that the strategies required to tackle an issue such as illiteracy will vary and need to be region-specific. While history can teach us a lot of lessons, there is need for an increased focus on both policy changes and grassroots efforts focused on making quality education accessible and available to all. Any entity trying to tackle this issue must respond to the diverse needs and circumstances of learners in specific regions—oftentimes different approaches are needed in different parts of the same country.
Education is widely linked to economic prosperity, the key to scientific and technological advancement, the means to combat unemployment, political stability, and the foundation of social equity. An educated population provides higher rates of return on investments and agricultural yields. Providing a non-hostile place for children to learn and socialize offers citizens an opportunity to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty. This process feeds the continued growth of investing in education and eventually increases the quality of life in aggregate.
Below are some interesting statistics on education and the developing world:
- Studies show that on average one additional year of schooling is associated with an annual increase in farming output of between 2% and 5%
- According to the World Bank the single largest determinant of economic growth for eight East Asian economies was education
- A mother with a primary education is 5x more likely to send her children to school
- The number of children born to a woman decreases by 40% if the woman has had a primary education
- One additional year of schooling for a mother results in a reduction in child mortality of 9 per 1,000 children
Problems in education exist in every part of the world—regardless of continent or country. Different kinds of problems exist in different parts of the world (accountability issues in rural Brazil, quality of schools in Morocco, access to village schools in Poland, and so on). These problems are all essentially combined in Pakistan, which leads to one of the world’s worst literacy rates in Pakistan. While almost all of the Western world, Russia, and China have literacy rates above 80%, Pakistan is one of the handful of countries in the world where officially reported literacy rates are below 50%. What is the future of Pakistan without a systematic overhaul of the education system?
There are solutions to these problems that are not very complicated to implement and have been set up with the efforts of just one individual in some cases. In Pakistan specifically the dominant method of teaching—by feeding facts to children—needs to be replaced by a new method that engages youth in the learning process and develops minds by encouraging problem solving, decision making, and creativity. Learning does not begin and end at the classroom door but must be integrated into the lives of children, taking into account their home and community life. School and learning need to be a relevant and interesting experience for children.