Can Pakistan rise above the challenges? UN SDG 4 and the quest for a brighter future
❝The SDGs are a shared vision of a world.
the “vision piece” of the globalization puzzle❞
Keynote Speech at the Symposium on Sustainable Development Goals Thomas Gass
“In a portentous confluence of destiny, the United Nations General Assembly, on the grand stage of its 70th anniversary in September 2015, launched a veritable manifesto for the ages – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development. This inspiring plan is not just another blueprint; it is a symphony of action, a covenant for all of mankind, and a trumpet call to protect the environment, ensure shared prosperity, and fight poverty, which is the greatest threat facing the world today.
Under the umbrella of the 2030 Agenda, an array of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 bold targets were set. It’s an agreement, a promise to transform the planet in a span of fifteen years. These 17 objectives serve as the North Star, guiding us on a challenging adventure across three different spheres: the protection of our environment, societal advancement, and economic growth.
The 2030 Agenda takes center stage in the big turmoil of our common future. It’s a story of hope and a global quest for a world where our planet thrives, prosperity knows no bounds, and every soul, regardless of their place of birth, finds their rightful place in the sun.
In this grand tapestry of global development, Pakistan stands at a pivotal crossroads. Pakistan finds itself at the nexus of aspiration and action as the world hurtles towards the deadline for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. It’s a journey that encapsulates the dreams of millions and the aspirations of a nation.
Pakistan’s SDG Progress Report 2023
As we delve further, it is crucial to take a moment and contemplate the remarkable achievements and the path that lies ahead in Pakistan’s quest for these transformative objectives.
According to the latest sustainable development goals, the statistics for Pakistan are as:
In line with these compelling statistics, Pakistan has marked a moderate progress towards the promising sdg agenda.
Pakistan’s Odyssey with SDG 4- quality education:
In term of this, major challenge remains as Pakistan is stagnating or increasing at less than 50% of required rate. Asper indicators, the situation is either deteriorating, decreasing, or have no clue at all. Which is quite a dangerous situation as education is the ladder towards the betterment of every sector of a country.
According to economic survey 2022-23, the literacy figure stood at 59.3pc.
A teacher in a federal government school rightly expressed concern over the current literacy rate, stating that 60% is far from satisfactory considering that 40% of our population remains illiterate.
Education investment status:
It is concerning to note that Pakistan’s investment in education falls short, accounting for less than 2% of its GDP. Investing more in education is crucial for the country’s development and future prosperity. The recently released Economic Survey for the year 2022-23 indicates that both the federal and provincial governments combined only allocated a meager 1. 7% of the country’s GDP to this crucial sector. This calls for immediate attention and increased commitment towards prioritizing education as an essential investment for Pakistan’s future development. The fact that there is a significant gap in prioritizing education highlights a pressing issue that needs to be addressed. Education plays a vital role in the development and growth of any nation, including Pakistan. By increasing investment in education, we can ensure a brighter future for both the nation and its citizens. It is imperative to make education a top priority for long-term prosperity and success.
According to the statement, expenditures on education-related activities in FY2022 saw a significant increase of 37. 3%, reaching a total of Rs1, 101. 7 billion compared to the previous amount of Rs802. 2 billion. This substantial rise demonstrates a strong commitment to investing in education and ensuring its growth and development for the future.
Out of School students and gender disparities:
According to the survey, a concerning 32% of children are not attending school, with a disproportionate number of girls being denied access to education compared to boys. This disparity highlights the urgent need for targeted efforts to ensure that every child, regardless of gender, has equal opportunities for learning and growth.
Pakistan has the highest number of children not attending school with over 32 million in number. Which is a very alarming situation.
Lesser job opportunities with no degree value:
The state of education quality is a cause for concern, as surveys have revealed that many fifth graders are facing difficulties in basic reading skills. This issue persists not only in English but also in Urdu, highlighting the need for urgent attention and improvement.
The decline in the quality of higher education in our country is a pressing concern. Lately, numerous PhD holders have voiced their frustrations by staging protests in Islamabad, demanding employment opportunities within government universities. This issue highlights the urgent need for reforms and improvement within our education system to ensure that qualified individuals are given the chance to contribute their expertise and knowledge to academic institutions.
Recasting the old Norms:
Some introduced changes would regulate our system of education towards sustainability and consequently towards development of Pakistan. The journey towards improvement start from keen observation of the persistent flaws that are laying havoc on our educational system as a whole.
Identifying flaws and establishing clear goals:
There’s dire need of the moment for the Pakistan’s Government to actually take the education matters seriously and invest wisely as it is an extreme injustice towards the children and youth of Pakistan that are the ultimate future of our country. The grading system serves as the foundation for the current educational system. It is regarded as an accomplishment when students can recall lectures and materials from memory and write them flawlessly on exam paper. This, however, is among the less accurate ways to gauge students’ levels of learning. Therefore, in order to alter it, you must recognize its shortcomings and establish goals based on the difficulties you are currently encountering. This finally makes it easier for you to improve the educational system.
Old school curricula:
According to recent report published in June 2023 Pakistan is taking an initiative towards the change of curricula from grade 9 to 12 which feels like a cool breeze amidst the Sahara Desert. A bill was passed by the federal government which is as:
If properly implemented this would be of great value towards the students who are still stuck in the old school curricula which do not help them in the real World as they should do. It should also be the implemented to all the schools of Pakistan as the equal education is the right of every child of Pakistan
Invoking the modern technology:
If educational institutions want to stay competitive, they must adopt new technologies. Information technology is transforming education for the better, fostering creativity and a healthy balance of scientific literacy while also enabling students to become more globally and culturally aware.
For instance, immersive and engaging learning experiences can be created via virtual reality and augmented reality technology, which help students better perceive and comprehend complicated ideas.
Similar to how individualized feedback and adaptive learning experiences can be offered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, these experiences can be tailored to the learning preferences of certain students. As the world of education continues to change and evolve, it can help students build innovative mindsets and more effective communication skills, enabling them to seek personal responsibility and develop into contributing members of society.
As for this implementation is necessary, it is also necessary to provide adequate facilities to make this possible as Madad Ali Sindhi said
“Curriculum reform cannot be effective until basic facilities in all public schools across Pakistan are provided”
while addressing the National Curriculum Summit on 11th October, 2023.
Trainings of teachers:
Tailoring the teachers with the rightful trainings can make such an impact that will be seen in the students. A well aware teacher can shape the students in a way that is valuable in every form. To give kids better outcomes, the government should adopt stronger requirements for the appointment of teachers. Teachers should be given the opportunity to attend professional development seminars once every six months. This will make it easier to focus on what really matters—the teaching methods—and will lessen some of the professional stress brought on by the ongoing teaching.
Technology can supplement conventional in-person training and have a big impact on teachers’ professional growth. Teachers can access excellent training resources at anytime, anywhere through online training courses and webinars. Pakistan may raise the standard of education and guarantee that pupils have the finest learning experience by spending money on teacher training.
According to the article 25A:
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.
Even in the presence of law, millions of children in Pakistan are away from this very basic right and the main cause for this the POVERTY.
The government should announce more Scholarships and give Grants to the areas wherever necessary. Along with it certain campaigns should be done to teach the parents about the importance of education along with it the children should be provided with good free education.
Children and youth should be taught digital literacy in a w ay that they become able to equip themselves with such skills that can aid them financially in their education pathway.
There are certain free online sources are available that are working diligently to deliver sound knowledge that can help people in their livelihood such as DigiSkills and certain e learning programs launched by the government of pakistan as PITB, eRozgaar.
Grave challenges in implementation:
The future of Pakistan is very bright when its youth is rightly educated. However, there are certain issues that become a great hurdle in the way of change. Few are listed as
- Political instability and the lack of harmony among policymakers
- Cultural and traditional barriers
- Funding issues
- Resistance to change
Last but not the least the teachers and the children should be well aware of the SDGs agenda 2030 and how this can be worked out in Pakistan so that our country can deal with the climate crisis in a more concrete way. For the sustainable development is not the work of Government but every single individual should play their part towards the progress of the country, there are certain e learning and outrage program that give awareness and access to the data regarding SDGs and how can we get better at it with each passing day. A well aware youth is the biggest asset of a country.
- (n.d.). Federal SDGs Support Unit. https://www.sdgpakistan.pk/web/goals/goal4
- Keynote Speech at the Symposium on Sustainable Development Goals | United Nations. (n.d.). United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/desa/keynote-speech-symposium-sustainable-development-goals
- SDG Indicators. (n.d.). https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2023/
- Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) 2023 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). https://sdgs.un.org/gsdr/gsdr2023
- Abbasi, K. (2023, June 16). New curriculum for class 9 to 12 notified. DAWN.COM. https://www.dawn.com/news/1759911
R. (2023, October 12). Revamping Education System in Pakistan | Addressing Major Flaws. RedMarker Systems. https://redmarker.io/revamping-education-system-in-pakistan-addressing-major-flaws/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20crucial,impact%20on%20student%20learning%20outcomes.