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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.

Works Cited

Saqib, Muhammad, and Ahmad, Syed Mudasir. “Root Causes of Low Female Literacy in Fata Pakistan: (A Case Study of Jalozai Camp).” ResearchGate, Mar. 2014,

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While I agree with the correlation that you are trying to establish here, conflict contributes to low literacy rates because the resources meant for the development of infrastructure are being diverted to armed forces so that they can combat these conflicts. I remember reading a journal article by Ayesha Jalal where she mentioned that Pakistan, very soon after its inception, had become a 'paranoid state' - security, be it within the country or protecting the border, became the priority of the newly found state. This resulted in a trend where resources were disproportionally diverted to the military instead of being evenly distributed. So educational infrastructure and development have always been very low on the list of priorities of the Pakistani…


Your post made me revisit the PSLM Survey of 2019-2020 and the statistics are telling! The lowest literacy rates in Pakistan are in the Mohmand region in KP and Shaheed Sikandarabad in Balochistan at 26% and 14%, respectively, while KP and Balochistan overall also have the lowest literacy rates amongst all of Pakistan's provinces (55% and 46% respectively). Both these areas have been directly affected by conflict between local rebel and terrorist groups, insurgents and the armed forces of Pakistan.


Great Post! I wanted to look at the correlation you established between low literacy rate and pressing conflicts that individuals have to face the consequences of, through an intersectional gendered lens. We can also hold conflicts responsible for the low literacy rates of young girls. I say this because because there is a constant threat concerning the safety of girls which exacerbates in times of conflict. Several research reports I have read for this course and some others have suggested that literacy rate for girls is even lower than boys. I remember speaking to a friend who has relatives who hail from Kashmir who are uncomfortable sending their girls off to get an education because they are afraid of their girls'…


Now that you have mentioned it, I am also thinking how low literacy rates in Pakistan are associated with factors like cultural norms, limited monetary capital, lack of awareness or limited educational resources but there's no mention of conflict being one of the major factors. We can look at Balochistan here where the future of the children is at stake because of the continuing army interventions/violence. Children have had to halt their education because for e.g. between 2008-10, suspected militant groups targeted and killed at least 22 teachers and other education personnel in the province. Militants have also threatened, bombed, or otherwise attacked schools, resulting in injuries, deaths, property damage, and curtailed education for Balochistan’s children and youth. There are…

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