Can conflict be one of the reasons behind low literacy rate in Pakistan?
Pakistan is known to be one of the countries where literacy rate is very low. There are various factors that one can blindly point out, which contribute to the low literacy rate. However, I was surprised to find out that many of the articles I read did not mention conflicts in Pakistan as one of the factors contributing to low literacy rate. When I looked up for reasons contributing to low literacy rate in Pakistan, conflict was nowhere to be found as one of the reasons in the first few searches. A country which has and is constantly engaged in all sorts of conflict but this factor has not been highlighted enough.
I focus on the people living in conflict ridden areas. No other person is affected as severely during armed conflict as the innocent people living in it. They may not support either side but unfortunately live in the region where conflict arises. They not only face physical injuries but also undergo phycological trauma. Education is one of the first things that is put to a hold as people face all sorts of brutality and pain. Education here refers to schooling that children should receive. Even educational structures are disrupted. It becomes difficult for children to study because even the school buildings are in a bad state. Even if the children are given education, they may not learn much due to the fear and worries they are surrounded by. Moreover, it is difficult to follow a normal timetable during such situations. A very recent example of this is when PTI announced protests in Islamabad due to their party leader being shot in the leg. As there was a chance of conflict, all schools and universities in Islamabad were closed for two days.
Conflicts, especially armed conflicts, render the region unsafe for the people living there. Their priority is saving their lives and not educating themselves or their children. In the FATA region of Pakistan, which has now been included in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, many military operations were carried out. This affected their education as the author states “twenty eight out of eighty respondents had left their education due to militancy” (Saqib and Ahmad 463). This study represents that though there are many factors in Pakistan that cause low literacy rate but militant activities cause a further reduction in it, as it makes the environment unsafe for students. The female students are forced halt their education, “the female literacy level in conflict area (FATA) is 10%” (Saqib and Ahmad 463). As Pakistan is a patriarchal society and women are considered vulnerable, unsafe situations cause them to be restricted in to their homes.
The point I am trying to highlight is that in Pakistan people are actively living in conflict. Be it clashes within cities such as those between the police and protestors of a political party or military operations in the Northern Areas and Balochistan. Perhaps we need to shed more light on how constant conflict might be a reason for hindering child education resulting in low literacy rate in Pakistan.
Saqib, Muhammad, and Ahmad, Syed Mudasir. “Root Causes of Low Female Literacy in Fata Pakistan: (A Case Study of Jalozai Camp).” ResearchGate, Mar. 2014, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314936568_Root_Causes_of_Low_Female_Literacy_in_FATA_Pakistan_A_Case_Study_of_Jalozai_Camp.