As the Punjab Assembly concluded their session with a proposed 30% increase in the educational budget, most would agree that in a country where half of all children do not have access to education and a further 28% drop out by grade 5, this is an important step. In fact, education is universally accepted as the primary tool to tackle unemployment, crime and poverty. However, whilst countries around the world have actively strived for a literate populace, Pakistan in keeping with tradition has outlined no such policy. In our abstract approach to the issue, we have often assumed a typically short-sighted stance, and have at best thrown some money at the problem to appease the masses. As a result, a large number of schools are built, teachers are hired, students are enrolled, and after the expected media coverage and ego reinforcement, subsequently disbanded. Teachers that don’t show up still receive salaries, and schools operate without them, or are abandoned, or used by drug dealers or as cattle pens. In a country where there are currently an estimated 7000 of these ‘ghost schools’, it is an ongoing national disaster.

Government initiatives like the distribution of laptops, instead of offering large scale IT services within schools, highlights the precedence media hype takes over good governance. To not take advantage of our primarily young demographic is almost criminally negligent and a grave under-utilisation of Pakistan’s substantial human resource potential. A lack of transparency offers bureaucrats and powerful feudal lords (who feel threatened by an educated local population) another outlet for the misappropriation of state-allocated funding. Not only do such policies represent lost opportunity for millions of children, but also reinforce cycles of unemployment, child labour and the resulting epidemic of poverty and extremism. The successful implementation of an education system raises many complex questions, and so far we have demonstrated our ineptitude, willingly and otherwise, to provide the right answers.