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Concept Note

Water, Education, Economy and Population (WEEP) are fundamental pillars that exert profound and interconnected impacts on the well-being and security of a nation. These critical elements permeate every facet of society, ultimately shaping the overall security landscape. In order to ensure the robustness of a state’s security, it is imperative to continuously monitor and address the various dimensions of these domains.

Context

Inadequacies or challenges within any of these domains can significantly compromise a nation’s security. Regrettably, Pakistan faces acute challenges across these critical sectors, warranting a comprehensive and focused approach to address them effectively. While the National Security Policy of 2022 has underscored the importance of human security within a ‘citizen-centric’ framework, the translation of policy into actionable initiatives in the areas of water management, education reform, economic development, and population management continues to face substantial implementation gaps, mirroring challenges observed in other government responsibilities.

Series Objective

The Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS), Islamabad, recognizes the urgency of addressing these pressing issues and their interconnectedness. To foster a more informed and constructive discourse, CASS is planning to organize a series of seminars, each dedicated to exploring one of these critical domains in depth. These seminars aim to facilitate a nuanced understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and policy imperatives in each area, fostering dialogue and knowledge exchange among key stakeholders, policymakers, and academic experts. The first seminar in this Series was conducted on ‘Mitigating Pakistan’s Population Challenges.’ This second seminar will be focused on the education sector of the country.

Seminar Overview

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

— Nelson Mandela

According to the UN Human Development Report 2021-22, Pakistan ranks 161 out of 192 countries. The country’s literacy rate stands at 58.9%. Back in 2011, the Pakistan Education Task Force after submitting its report concluded that there was a need to declare an ‘Education Emergency’ in Pakistan. The report also revealed that one in ten of the world’s not-in-school children in the primary age group lived in Pakistan (globally placing it second worst in out-of-school children rankings). Balochistan and Sindh are home to the highest proportion of out-of-school children. Another critical component of education is the curriculum, which acts as a roadmap for future generations. Regrettably, the curriculum has consistently been a contentious aspect of our education system. While the country is currently grappling with an education emergency, particularly concerning the number of out-of-school children and issues related to the curriculum, compounding these challenges is the pressing issue of the overall quality of education being provided. According to UN Global Education Monitoring Report, the cumulative impact of a lack of sustained focus on education has resulted in Pakistan being more than fifty to sixty years behind in its primary and secondary education targets. The higher education sector also faces issues like political interference, insufficient funding allocation, and a scarcity of skilled faculty, hindering the development of a robust academic environment.

Hence, this seminar will concentrate exclusively on the challenges facing Pakistan’s education sector. It will address critical issues such as the high number of out-of-school children, the contentious nature of the curriculum, and the overall quality of education and the potential strategies for addressing them. The speakers will also tackle other linked issues, notably the effects of the 18th Amendment on education policies and their implementation. A key focus will be on understanding whether education is now primarily a federal responsibility or if it falls under provincial jurisdiction as a result of the amendment. Additionally, the seminar will delve into the viability of a common syllabus for school education in Pakistan. It will explore whether a unified educational framework is practical, or if maintaining distinct educational streams, such as public or government-run schools, private institutions, and madrasas, is more suitable for the country’s diverse educational landscape.

Themes

The seminar will encompass the following broad themes:

  • Quality of Education and Challenges in Higher Education
  • Out-of-School Children and Regional Disparities
  • Curriculum Development and Controversies

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