Number of the Day: 10,000+ Schools

Posted on September 24, 2010
Filed Under >Faris Islam, Disasters, Education, Environment
Total Views: 71580

Faris Islam

In order to really understand the magnitude of what has happened, we need to look at the numbers and what they really signify. This became much more real to me when I read the recent news in Dawn about a press conference where Umar Amal, a UNESCO official describes exactly what this flood will mean to the children of the flood:

  • Five to six percent of all the schools in Pakistan – 9,780 government schools in total – have been either partially or fully damaged by the flooding.
  • This translates into between 1.5 to 2.5 million students, with the UN Children’s Fund saying that over ten million children – including 2.8 million under the age of five – have been affected.
  • The officials also believe that once the tally of private schools that have been damaged is added in, the number will surge above the 10,000 mark.
  • In addition to these damaged schools – 2,700 of which are fully damaged – another 5,563 schools are still being used as relief camps according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

UNESCO points out the tremendous costs of the flooding on the education sector – reinforcing how hard our recovery will be and how crucial it will be for the heart and soul of Pakistan. The statistics are sobering, the reality heart-wrenching and the need more dire than ever before.

These numbers really do speak for themselves, painting a picture of just one of the many long-term challenges we’ll face as we struggle to rebuild and move forward. As our country lies devastated by the horrific floods that ripped through it, trying to understand the sheer scale of the destruction and its impact on Pakistan for years to come constantly boggles the mind. The UN confirmed this earlier this week with their largest ever appeal for aid and calling this disaster the largest the organization has faced in its six decade history.

The educational aspect however is especially serious given the historic problems with education in Pakistan, the costs needed to get these schools back in shape and the long-term effects this would have on the millions of children affected. While primary school enrollment and adult literacy both officially stood at 57%, many fear they are significantly lower and unfortunately it seems likely to further plunge as a result of this calamity.

It is time to use this announcement as a clarion call to refocus our efforts, to demand that we as a country refuse to accept this many children denied of an education, refuse to accept a new status quo that pushes so many further into poverty and illiteracy and pushes our country further away from our collective vision of where we want to be. However, cash-strapped and corruption-stricken, with so few funds and capabilities to tackle so large of a problem, the question arises – can we do it?

I think, we can. I think, we must.

12 responses to “Number of the Day: 10,000+ Schools”

  1. Junaid says:

    On the positive side, thee are also a lot of NGOs working with the flood affectees who are focusing exactly on this issue of education

  2. Sana Saleem says:

    The figure is Hilarious !

    Education makes up a society and when there are no schools, That means the loss of a good society. In this time we need to get up and unite to make new schools and give special attention to the education infrastructure.

  3. Aisha PZ says:

    This post is a good beginning and we need to understand the magnitude of the disaster, what it means to a nation already devoid of any functional universal primary or basic education, and how these ‘sobering statistics’ can help those of us who are privileged to read this blog, translate this into action.

    This indeed is a grand opportunity to wake our nation up and realize we have a moral obligation and duty to help those deprived of basic education. I hope this won’t be another missed opportunity. I would be more excited to read posts where we can collectively share solutions, strategies and ways on how we can help. We need only to look around at other nations around us, to help us learn best practices and ways to make education a priority in a country whose government has a difficult time supplying it on a large scale.

    What can we DO? – We can start by supporting NGOs and other institutions who help build schools, train teachers and invest in communities who are hungry to have a school in their village. We can adopt a village and promise to build a school there. For those of us living outside Pakistan, we can support the amazing NGOs like DIL (Developments in Literacy), TCF (The Citizens Foundation), Behbud, HDF etc. who support educational projects. We should be inspired by people like the American, Greg Mortenson, who, as an outsider, was moved by the compassion and generosity of our fellow Paksitanis in Balitistan, and promised to return to them and build schools for Pakistanis and Afghanis after they nursed him back to health. He and his institute have now built over 130 schools! If each one of us could do a fraction of what he did, do the math. We need to be inspired, not whine and persevere. We must ACT. As Pakistanis, we cannot afford not to.

  4. khurram says:

    Our education system was already under funded stress and this disaster has magnified the education problem and here is the best part, Government of Pakistan is planning to boost defence budget by cutting 20% education spending (a BBC news)
    Now who is to blame…..?

  5. ASAD says:

    I think yes we can and yes we must. But the question is what and how.

    I think one thing we can do is to support organizations like citizen foundation and others who are doing exactly this, working on post-flood education programs. We now need to target our giving not just to relief, but to reconstruction, including on education and for schools.

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