Illiteracy: A Major Issue


  • What is illiteracy?

Literacy is the ability to read and write; while Illiteracy is the inability to read and write or the lack of knowledge can be called ignorance.

  • Why is it the major issue in Pakistan?

With a population of around 170 million it is referred as one of the illiterate countries of Asia about half of the male population is illiterate and two third of the female population cannot even write their names. It differs from province to province as Baluchistan is the most illiterate province around.

UNESCO director said ‘“The proportion of population in Pakistan lacking basic reading and writing is too high. This is a serious obstacle for individual fulfillment, to the development of societies, and to mutual understanding between peoples.”

Illiteracy is a small pane in a large window, opening into the world of knowledge based on reading and writing as one of the earliest cultural activities of mankind. Mankind’s civilization, and its accumulation, sharing and transmission of knowledge over the centuries has been made possible by written and readable words. Every Muslim knows that the first command revealed by Allah to the Holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH) was ‘READ’.

Literacy, over the centuries, has become the lever of human progress and the leveler of social and economic conditions. It is a basic human need, and human right to knowledge. Illiteracy is brake on human development, and maps of illiteracy – poverty, underdevelopment, social discrimination and disease are always co-incident. It is a challenge to human dignity and imposes a second-class status on a person in all societies. Life without literacy is life without hope, security and freedom.

  • Reasons behind the illiteracy?

The literacy problems are usually due the broad policy hurdles and some on-ground factors.
The causes behind illiteracy are

Lack of management , planning of continuing education, Low budget, Weak community participation, Lack of resources, Lack of training institutes, Falling merit, Problem of private sector, low level of officer qualification, root learning ,problem of over-crowded class rooms, lack of language training in backward area schools, high drop rate, corruption,Lack of facilities like computer labs, proper science labs, electricity, water, security ,Lack of teachers in the government institutions, High fee in private sector institutions

  • Effects of illiteracy:

Illiteracy effects the nation, these causes may bring employment issues, overpopulation because people are not educated for their family planning, this causes increase in unskilled labor, heavy international debt, the major concern is the child labor, poor international image, a threat to democracy, low per acre agriculture yield etc.

  • Effects explained:

Now Pakistan is facing a serious un-employment issues in the private sector the foreign graduates are preferred because they have required skills but why the national graduate’s do not meet the requirements? This is due the curriculum establish by education commission.

Over population is a major issues in Pakistan now a days because the people are usually illiterate and do not plan their family according to their income, they do not have awareness and moreover our curriculum also not provide the awareness or anything on the topic of family planning.

Unskilled labor as mentioned above the national graduate lack the necessary skills , this may be the biggest flaw in our education system the students are not equipped with latest techniques and are just confined to the books and giving the exams for a degree.

Child labor is biggest issue addressed internationally, the children of the poor areas either lack the educational facilities or the facilities are too costly.

Literacy is the pre-condition of democracy, an illiterate person do not know the value of his or her vote, how the democracy is going to survive if the citizen is not aware of the value of his vote. He might sell his vote for a nominal price. This remains a big threat to democracy.

Pakistan is an agricultural a , agriculture contributes toward the economy of the country but we have only few agricultural institutes in our country , and the labor usually lack the basic knowledge about the seeds, water, use of the agricultural tools and machinery.

The existing curriculum needs to be changed and revised after regular intervals in order to ensure the quality education.

  • Laws and regulation to enhance the education standard:

Under the constitution of Pakistan Article 25; every citizen has the right to education, moreover the state shall provide free and compulsory education to the citizens under age of five to sixteen.
If the state is to provide free education then why there is child labor? Why the children are working in such un-bearable environments despite of going to schools.
The reason is that the government schools lack the quality infra-structure, there is no furniture, boards, well established classrooms and other facilities are lacking , even schools are without proper boundary which makes them vulnerable to the nearby cattle’s, harmful animals etc.

  • As observed in the petition regarding miserable condition of the schools,
    2014 SCMR 396
    in this the following allegations were made
    – violation of article 25 of constitution
    -teachers were not recruited on merit
    -regular leaves for no reason
    -absence of teachers
    -political and social influence
    -lack of proper facilities, management.

    –The Supreme Court ruled and advised the district and session judges of the relevant districts to conduct proper enquiry in order to enhance the education under the constitution.

  • Plus there should be no gender gap according to the article 25 of the constitution the both boys and girls should undertake free and compulsory education
    -as observed in Syed Nazeer Agha vs. Govt. of Baluchistan, PLD 2014 Baluchistan 86
  • Education plays an important role in the successful life of the person- education is considered to be the foundation of the society which brings economic wealth, social prosperity, political stability, and maintaining healthy population
    this text was obtained from Fiqat Hussain vs. Federation of Pakistan, PLD 2012 supreme court 224
  • There is the problem face by teachers is the nonpayment of their salaries
    this was observed in Ghulam Mustafa and 189 other vs. Province of Sindh, 2010 CLC 1383
    the teachers and peons were not paid their salaries and after the enquiry court ruled that within 30 days their salaries should be paid in order to ensure their working and giving education to students.
  • Suggestions:

In order to improve situations here are some suggestion according to me: A uniform education policy, Ability and merit must be declared as corner stones of our national life, Adequate educational facilities, Removal of fake schools; 23000 present in whole country, Fair examination system, Updated curriculum, High standard of academic research, Removal of corruption, Training of teachers, Removal of rote learning.


Talha Rehman is a student at Pakistan College of Law and doing his LLB(hons). He is a former senior intern at Tareen Barrister's Chamber and a teaching fellow at Rabtt alongside volunteering at NILS-Pakistan Chapter.

The views expressed by the authors in all the posts do not necessarily reflect those of Pakistan College of Law.
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