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Pakistan lags behind in meeting education Millennium Development Goals

By: Sumera Khan

ISLAMABAD: Owing to the war on terror, slow economic growth and natural disasters, the government has fallen short of meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), particularly those of education, confirmed several government officials.

Former member planning commission Saba Gul Khattak told The Express Tribune that the country was lagging behind on its Millennium Development Goals, specifically in the education sector.

“Progress to the fifth year of schooling has declined over the past five years, 55 per cent of all Pakistani adults are illiterate, and among women the rate is close to 75 per cent,” she said.

Khattak said that the key impediment to MDG achievement is that women in Pakistan face discrimination, exploitation and abuse at many levels. Girls are prevented from exercising their right to education either because of traditional family practices, economic problems or the destruction of girls’ schools by militants.

Another official of the planning commission said that most countries are not able to meet MDGs regarding health, education and gender disparities, and Pakistan is no exception. “Pakistan has made progress but achieving MDGs seems impossible as the state cannot perform completely in accordance with such unrealistic targets,” said the official.

The original target set for meeting the MDGs is 2015, which includes eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education for boys and girls and combating HIV/AIDs.

The Pakistan MDGs Report 2010 summarises 16 national targets and 37 indicators adopted from the standard MDGs. According to parameters of performance, Pakistan is ahead in six indicators, on track for two, slow in four, lagging behind in 20 and is off-track only in one indicator, which is infant mortality.

Of the six successful indicators, the only one worth appreciating is a decrease in the prevalence of HIV/AIDs among vulnerable groups, including sex workers and young pregnant women. On the other hand, while Pakistan has one of the highest numbers of women representatives in the Parliament, it severely lags behind women-specific indicators such as the maternal mortality rate, women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector and the contraceptive prevalence rate.

The Express Tribune