Higher Education not for all

Pakistan is a country where all commodities have some concessions or subsides, but not education. Parents pay an enormous sum for the education of their children from primary to tertiary levels. This lead to widespread belief that only rich can acquire the education, for the rest higher education will remain a distant dream. Parents must have to bear allied expenses.

A child from poor or lower-middle income family cannot afford to pay such fees for the privilege of competing in the admission process. Getting admission especially in private universities is another issue entirely.  According to Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2013-2014 marks higher education as the most expensive item for household, compared to primary and secondary education, whether government or private.

The mean annual expenditure on higher education in urban areas, in governmental institutes is RS25, 374/- and RS42, 704/- in private facilities. This PSLM statistics gives a conservative estimate. A regular higher education student spend a substantial amount on transport, purchase of books, library membership, photocopies of notes, access to computer and internet, and canteen.

On top of this, all major discipline require students to undertake independent or group project to add value to their academic experience. Such projects entails expenses that include field work, academic and project material, and production of output, all to be borne by the students. Pakistan is bless with over 65pc of its population being youth, if the government take the proper initiative to pave the way for free education it would definitely lead to progress and prosperity.

Access to free and quality education is one of the important targets of our sustainable development goals. The Higher Education Commission and other relevant stakeholder must recognize and mitigate this issue encountered by the common public. Otherwise, the only beneficiaries of education will continue to be rich, while the poor are left behind. Currently, there are few options for the masses, prompting them to abandon educational aspirations, which is no less than fatal.

Kiran Fatima

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