Gaining optimum educational output
In his speech, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students, who are nation builders of tomorrow. They must fully equip themselves by discipline, education and training for the tough task lying ahead of them (October 31, 1947 Lahore). It is quite understandable that education is the main driver of development for any country but when analysed some educational statistics, we come to know that Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. Nearly 10.7 million boys and 8.6 million girls are enrolled at the primary level and this drops to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level as mentioned by UNICEF based on Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17.
While ASER report-2019 seconds it by providing another quantitative picture. The report states that only 59% of students of grade 5 can read a storybook in Urdu or other local languages; only 55% are capable of reading simple sentences in English. The case of mathematics is not too different as only 57% can do two-digit number divisions.
Unfortunately due to the successive changes in governments, lack of policy continuity, low budget size and allocation for education, we were not able to achieve MDGs as per given in Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17 jointly worked out by National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) and Academy of Educational Planning and Management (AEPAM).
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), quality education being a prominent goal in it as education is essential for the success of all SDGs and therefore it is the core of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Although the government is determined to implement these goals in letter and spirit and has adopted SDGs as National Development Goals yet we are not witnessing educational output at the optimum level.
To dig out the causes of this particular problem, let’s focus on a proverb first, 'A chain is only as strong as its weakest link', now in our educational output case, these figurative weakest links can be identified and termed as high dropout and elevated brain drain. These areas need our focus at national level and calls for immediate remedial actions.
High dropout
There are a number of reasons responsible for the high dropout of our young learners like lack of resources, parental negligence and governmental low interest. At the micro-level, the causes for high dropout maybe some kind of academic challenge that undermines students’ faith in themselves as learners.
The other aspect is the fact that the majority of the students are from lower income families, not necessarily living in poverty but are in struggling situation. For some students who are bullied mercilessly finally left the school. Punishment due to not attempting homework as they had no time at home or might not have a home environment where they can effectively do their homework created the problem.
The problem of high dropout can be better coped through vigilant planning and proper policy formation by making education as one of the top priorities. Allocations of funds, providing better human and material resources can address this issue up to a greater extent. Another step can be the nurturing of school-community linkages to increase on-time enrolment, reduce drop-outs, and ensure completion and transition for all students.
Finally, by adopting Alternative Learning Pathways Program (ALP) to assist youth, who have ignored year of schooling, to complete their essential education and to acquire educational qualification in a relatively short period of time. This can be a cost-effective way of bridging the gap and accelerating educational momentum.
Elevated brain drain
Brain drain is the migration of skilled human resources due to diverse reasons. Brain drain is defined as the migration of individuals in search of the better standards of living and quality of life, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places globally; While Wikipedia encyclopedia terms it as human capital flight which refers to the emigration or immigration of individuals who have received advanced training at home. The net benefits of human capital flight for the receiving country are sometimes referred to as a "brain gain" whereas the net costs for the sending country are sometimes referred to as a "brain drain".
Pakistan is amongst the countries where brain drain is at its peak. In the last two years (2018 and 2019) alone, some 884,000 young Pakistanis have left the country, according to the official registrations at the bureau of emigration. The record indicates more than 300,000 Pakistanis left the country in 2018 more than 500,000 in 2019; showing a growing trend year after year. Most of these individuals are fresh graduates from local universities along with other highly trained workforce, skilled individuals, semi skilled individuals and the labor force that left the country.
As brain drain has a series of positive and negative effects on the economy of countries. A positive aspect can be the remittances from expatriates living abroad constitute a significant proportion of foreign revenue for many developing countries but its negative consequences are exceptionally bitter. A large number of our genius students left the county to fight unemployment and fulfill their dreams. Our young generation provides services to others just for having their financial security.
The conditions in which science and technology can prosper require better policy making and decisions, funding, infrastructure, technical support, and a scientific community; these are generally unavailable in developing countries. Fortunately, the turn of the 21st century has not only brought technology, but also modes by which experts in any field around the world can be connected in no time. In this globalized world, the physical location of a person may not have any significant impact.
As a developing country, converting brain drain to wisdom gain or brain gain is challenging. This problem can be minimized through improving our job market, providing scholarships, incentives to the young generation at home; Strengthening industrial setup and improving economic activities will provide more suitable jobs as per individual’s qualifications. We can provide freelancing skills, online jobs and e-skills to our youth for the growing e-markets internationally.
In brief, to accelerate progress and ensure benefits from the education fullest, better planning and implementations to counter dropout and brain drain are of prime importance.