Pakistan’s education system faces structural challenges that extend beyond issues of affordability.

The education system in Pakistan grapples with several obstacles, creating significant barriers for numerous families and children seeking an education. Recent data indicates a staggering 95% increase in textbook costs since May 2023, contributing to escalating urban inflation—an alarming trend.

However, the issues extend well beyond financial limitations. The survival rate for Grade 10 students in the 2020–2021 school year paints a bleak picture, showcasing one of the world’s highest dropout rates in Pakistan. Shockingly, nearly 52% of females enrolled in Grade 1 end up leaving school before completion.

These challenges are intricately linked with socioeconomic factors. An alarming 71% of primary school dropouts in Punjab hail from the lowest income quintiles, highlighting the substantial educational gap intensified by financial constraints. This emphasizes the close association between the dropout crisis and household income.

Access to education remains a distant prospect for many Pakistanis, especially considering the country’s escalating inflation. Textbooks, an essential educational resource, have consistently driven urban inflation over the past eleven months due to increased prices of imported books and raw materials. This further burdens families striving to provide education for their children.

The battle becomes more formidable when considering the gender gap in dropout rates. Girls face disproportionate challenges and heightened school expenses, significantly impeding their academic progress.

Children from the two poorest quintiles in Punjab are disproportionately affected by the region’s educational challenges, deepening socioeconomic gaps and hindering educational success. This situation leads to severe consequences, with half of the children unable to complete middle-junior high school and a staggering 71% failing to finish elementary school.

The restricted access to education has far-reaching implications, perpetuating cycles of unemployment, poverty, and social marginalization for those who drop out. This sustains a daunting cycle of disadvantage that is challenging to break.

Beyond issues of inflation and affordability, Pakistan’s education system grapples with structural deficiencies, compounding the obstacles faced by students and families striving for education. The inadequate infrastructure in many schools, a lack of qualified teachers, outdated curriculum, regional disparities, and limited access for marginalized communities all contribute to a complex web of challenges.

Addressing these multifaceted issues demands a holistic approach, including measures to enhance financial support, provide inclusive opportunities, and revamp the curriculum to meet the evolving needs of students. Efforts to bridge the educational divide and create a more equitable educational landscape in Pakistan are crucial for fostering social mobility and empowering the nation’s youth.

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