I have been visiting, quite frequently, in flood affected areas of Pakistan’s Southern Sindh province and realized that government, non-government and private organizations are trying to provide food and relief to affected population. One can argue the quality and appropriateness of relief efforts but it is quite encouraging that relief efforts are underway to provide comfort to the affectees. However, the sight of a large number of children roaming aimlessly around the flood relief camps clearly tell that educational activities are conspicuously neglected in the aftermath of recent disaster.

Ikram Khoso, a Mirpurkhas based school teacher, observed that education has always been the most neglected part in Pakistan. He added that occurrence of frequent disasters in past several years has greatly suffered the education activities in disaster affected areas, especially in Sindh province. The school teacher from Mirpurkhas recalled last year’s worst flood in different parts of the country and informed, “Our children’s education activities were in the recovery process; however, in the meantime, we have received another flood in many parts of the province. It is highly unfortunate that children’s education suffers immensely, during and post disaster situation in Pakistan.”

Since 2005, the country has been facing numerous disasters, either natural or manmade, quite frequently and international agencies estimate that recent torrential rain and flood have at least affected 2.2 million children in Sindh province. It is pertinent to mention that thousands of children are still in recovery process from last year’s flood.

Mirza Mahmood, a Hyderabad based school teacher, observed that during emergency situation children face numerous threats, such as diseases, hunger, separation from their families and discontinuation of their education. He further added that children’s inability to attend the school is a significant issue and it creates a clear sense of deprivation among them. Mirza Mahmood informed, “Hundreds of schools have been destroyed during the disaster situation in many parts of the country and due to absence of infrastructure a large number of children, in emergency situation, are being deprived of regular and formal education.”

Abdul Waheed, a Karachi based journalist, feared that frequent occurrence of disaster like situation in the country creates obvious hurdles in country’s progress to achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He observed that education activities suffer a major setback in many disaster affected areas as government has failed to take immediate steps to setup temporary education system for affected children, both boys and girls.

It is really heartening that at the highest level of Pakistan’s federal government there is a clear realization about the importance of education. Last year, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of the Country, had declared 2011 as Education Year. The Pakistani media reported that while addressing at the convocation of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore, the Prime Minister said an orphan was not a child whose parents had died, but a man who had no knowledge.
Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan says, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.” Similarly, UN Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC), which was signed and ratified by Pakistan, under Article 28 says, “States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;

Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;

Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;

Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

However, despite Constitutional guarantee and ratification of UN CRC regarding education, the Pakistan Education Task Force’s report, “Education Emergency Pakistan 2011”, states, “Today, Pakistan is crippled by an education emergency that threatens tens of millions of children”. The report further stated that, No country can thrive in the modern world without educated citizens. The economic cost of not educating Pakistan is the equivalent of one flood every year. The only difference is that this is a self-inflicted disaster. One in ten of the world’s out-of-school children is a Pakistani. The country is far from meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of providing universal education by 2015. It is pertinent to mention that our neighboring countries are far ahead from us in achieving Millennium Development Goal on education.

No one can deny the importance of education in achieving prosperity at individual as well as national level. Therefore, without any further delay, government should announce and made education as a national priority. It is absolutely necessary that all relevant stakeholders should sit together and set realistic targets and a tangible strategy to improve education indicators in the country. The increasing frequency of disasters, in all parts of the country, has intensified the need of including books as integral part of relief operation in emergency situation.


The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author:
Amir Mutaza is a senior researcher and he can be reached at 

Document ID :AHRC-ETC-045-2011
Countries : Pakistan
Date : 22-10-2011