health and education in Pakistan Nationhood 1947-1999 Provision of health and education in Pakistan 1947 to 1999

Provision of health and education in Pakistan 1947 to 1999

health and education in Pakistan

How successful have the successive governments been in the provision of health and education in Pakistan since 1947 to 1999? [14]

Pakistan governments have been facing many problems with the provision of Health and education since 1947 to 1999.

According to independent estimates in 1998, less than 30% of the Pakistan population is literate, and female literacy is estimated at 14% nationally. This was due to lack of financial investment in education by successive govt. who viewed defence as being more important.

During the first three decades after independence, education in Pakistan was accorded a very low official priority. In 1960, Pakistan was only spending 2% of budget on education which, by 1990, had grown to 2.9%. However, even after the mass nationalization of 1970s, state expenditure on education never rose above 3% of the budget.

A major problem has faced primary education with serious under-funding compared to secondary and higher education (in 5-Year-Plan 1956, 56% educational budget was allocated to secondary compared to only 18% for primary!) Little money remains for non-staff costs to spend on the primary sector.

A number of problems have, therefore, dogged all official attempts at improving the literacy rate. Rates of absenteeism and drop-outs are very high. More than half the students joining primary school leave within 5 years. One-third of girls drop out within a year. Education is also very expensive in Pakistan. Children are expected to buy their own books and uniform, and many children drop out of schools. In the secondary sector many private schools have been formed which have been for the more wealthy parts of the population which further emphasises the gap between the rich and the poor.

However, educational reforms were enforced from time to time. In 1972, all private schools and colleges were nationalized. But the policy had a devastating effect on the standard of teaching and standard of education in the country.

Another important problem was that policies introduced by one government were abandoned by the next govt. For example, the scheme of ‘Nai Roshni Schools’ was started in 1985 to educate a large number of children up to primary level. But the scheme was discontinued by the next elected govt. of Benazir in 1988. There has also been a lack of schools. A govt. report in 1989 admitted that over 60%of govt. school building were unsafe.

On the other hand, provision of health has also remained an enormous problem for Pakistan. One of the many problems inherited by the state of Pakistan was the very poor health care available to public. Since 1947, there has been a rapid increase in population. The annual growth rate in Pakistan in 1990 was estimated to be over 3% per year. At the same time, life expectancy is only 55 years for both men and women and maternal mortality is also one of the highest in the world. Furthermore, child mortality rate is also rampant: at 90 per 1000 births. Children die of diseases like diarrhoea, measles and whooping cough etc. Government estimates in 1990 suggest that 200,000 children a year died because of diarrhoea. Malnutrition is also prevailing in many parts of Pakistan, especially rural areas.

The belief in traditional medication is also one of the major causes for poor health in Pakistan. People usually trust on ‘Hakeems’ and Homeopathic medicines in rural areas, instead of going to professional qualified doctors. In addition, there has been a lack of doctors, nurses and hospitals since 1947. Public health expenditure was around 0.75% of budget in 1990. With such low investment it is indeed very difficult to improve health facilities in Pakistan.

National health planning started in 1960s, but the first large national health plan was introduced in 1972 with establishment of BHU (for every 20,000 people) and RHCs (for every 60,000 people). However, the reform failed due to poor management and lack of funding.

By the 1970s, nine Unani medical colleges were established. However, indigenous midwives (dais) are still an overwhelming choice for rural and urban women during childbirth and have escaped any formal regulation and training. There are over 8000 NGOs registered in health sector in Pakistan such as Edhi Foundation which is both effective and well-run.

Thus, on the whole, Pakistan governments have remained unsuccessful in the provision of health and education as the statistics show a very poor condition in both of the sectors.

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