Monday Apr 16, 2018
KARACHI: Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan states: “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.”
The reality, however, couldn’t be more different. As textbook prices and other education-related expenses spiral out of control, families struggling to make ends meet are forced to sacrifice other necessities to keep their children in school.
“I toil hard to make education possible for my child. I have to forego food in order to afford the education. I beg [the government], please do something for the high textbook costs. Where will the money come from? What do I do?” pleads a woman in tears.
According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, cost of education in the country soared 18% between March 2017 and March 2018.
“A book that costs Rs 40 is selling for Rs 120, 140 with just the addition of a monogram,” tells a shopkeeper. “Everything is expensive.”
The inflation has not only impacted textbook prices; the prices of stationery and other education-related accessories have also risen. Education is no longer a cause, it has become commercialised like any other industry.
The question remains: can the State ever take on the responsibility for free education? Can the hard-earning parents ever find relief?