Importance of constitutional literacy for a progressive society

Asmat Shah Garwaki

Recently, news circulated on print and electronic media that the most backward district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Torghar district has topped the District Performance Scorecard for the third time in a row for having best educational facilities at government schools and attendance ratio is also more than satisfactory.

For making a progressive society, it is encouraging that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is making efforts to provide all education facilities to the far-flung areas of the province.

The survey collects attendance rate, progress on development projects in schools, enrollment and provision of textbooks to students, percentage of provision of stipends, percentage of actions on online action Management System, percentage of functional PTCs, delivery of furniture, optimal student-teacher ratio and teachers’ attendance in schools.

The survey report contains a good message in regard with awareness about importance of education in Pakistan where literacy rate is too low in comparison with international standards and for level set by United Nations for attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to findings of a another survey conducted in 2017 by World Justice Project interviewing 4000 people on the theme of `Rule of Law in Pakistan’, `Pakistanis have a moderate amount of legal knowledge’.

The survey was conducted in five districts of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad and Quetta.

“Pakistanis have moderate views of political and media freedoms in the country and quite positive views of religious freedoms,” adds the survey report.

The survey report also made a positive and encouraging observation that since 2016, perception of political, media and religious freedoms in the country have improved, reflecting increasing awareness among people about their constitutional rights and liberties as enshrined in constitution.

There is an urgent need to focus on the populated districts and at least ensure the basic education, as assured by the constitution of the Pakistan. Pakistan overall literacy rate remains static at 58 percent with literacy rate of male 70 percent and 48 percent of female.

Different organizations and civil society workers started Constitutional Literacy Campaign for spreading of education as not all young people are fortunate enough to get formal school, college and university education in their areas.

The Education Policy 2009 exhorted that curriculum shall emphasize the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of Pakistan, so that each individual shall develop within himself/herself and the society at large as constitutional literacy, strengthening of political system as well as for a progressive society.

Lack of awareness among the public at large on the importance of education as well for the development of a society is creating a gap among masses, stakeholders and parliament. To bridge this widening gap, the public must study and learn the constitution which is a social contract between a state and a citizen.

There is big communication gap between society and parliament; especially our youth is not very well connected and are not aware of the significance of their right that’s why there are lack of educational institutions in their area and unable to get education and play role for the development and change of a society.

There is a need to strengthen the relationship between civil society and parliament, as civil society can be instrumental for pro-people legislations regarding education as parliament is the only supreme institution which could resolve all societal issues especially to fulfill lack of education in the society.

For betterment of a society, democratic civic education shall be made a compulsory part of curriculum and educational activities in the country.

The fundamental rights preserved in the Constitution of 1973 along with an unbiased account of constitutional and democratic developments in Pakistan shall be included in the textbooks that would create awareness among students which lead it to a successful society.

Improved literacy can contribute to economic growth; reduce poverty; reduce crime; promote democracy; increase civic engagement; prevent all kinds of evils and other diseases through information provision; enhance cultural diversity through literacy programs.

Article 25A providing educational opportunity to citizens is their constitutional right that the government of Pakistan would provide best opportunity to them for getting education.

According to Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-2018, the literacy rate for entire Pakistan includes ten years old and above is 58 percent. The national net enrollment for primary level for over all Pakistan stood at 54 percent while Punjab leading the rest with 59 percent, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 53 percent, Sindh by 48 percent and Balochistan 33 percent.

Similarly, the gross enrollment rate for Pakistan is 87 percent and again Punjab in the lead with 93 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 88 percent, Sindh 78 percent and Balochistan 60 percent. The gross enrollment for males is 94 percent and 78 percent females.

The provincial government has stressed upon parents to enroll their children in schools to get the constitutional right of education as the government providing free of cost books and providing other facilities, and sought the help of Ulema, civil societies, local representatives and others in this regard to fulfill the constitutional right of a citizen for a progressive society.