Sir: Nelson Mandela rightly said: “Education is the most important weapon that you can use to change the world.” It is believed that education carries utmost importance in all ages because it functions as an engine of development, progress and prosperity for any nation.Undoubtedly, many developed nations around the world have made their mark by the means of education. Countries like China, Japan, America and Russia have yielded greater benefits from education by improving its quality. They have achieved sustainable socio-economic growth and progress.And they are ahead from developing countries in every field ranging from economy to industry, technology to science, arts to culture, history to heritage and what not. This is mainly because they have prioritized this necessary tool than anything else. The soul reason why developing countries including Pakistan are lagging far behind- is the negligence of the education sector. Despite being a harbinger of change, education in Pakistan has been neglected at large.The depressing fact is that the education system is largely unsatisfactory in our country. In fact, low Literacy rate coupled with dropouts, ghost teachers and dearth of basic amenities portray a dismal picture of the education system. According to the Economic Survey of 2017-18, last year the literacy rate dropped by 2 percent, from 60 percent to 58 percent, and it is holding steady at this number so far this year.Inadequate budget allocation is also significantly contributing towards its backwardness. In 2017, the government allocated 2.3 percent of its GDP, but in the current financial year allocation stands at 2.2 percent only, which is not enough.Additionally, the rapid dropout ratio is also a real reason for deplorable conditions of education. There is an alarming rate of dropouts; around 23 million children are out of school. In addition, poor infrastructure, absenteeism, lack of basic facilities, poorly trained teachers and an insufficient budget for the sector are one of the root causes behind falling standards of education system in Pakistan.Undeniably, outdated curriculum is also one of responsible factors for this poor state of education. World has entered an era of science and technology, modern innovation and advancement. But the case in Pakistan is different. Old text books that were taught years before are still part of our curriculum and are being taught in schools regularly.Undoubtedly, education is the only means of moving forward. Progress and development of any nation entirely depends on this necessary tool. Education alone can help Pakistan address its grave issues such as poverty, unemployment and others. Education is essential if we are to give birth to pluralistic, harmonious and prosperous Pakistan. Education is the driver of social and economic growth. As the ‘father of the nation’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah once said “Without education it is complete darkness, and with education it is light”. Education is a matter of life. So, it is high time for government to take immediate action to bring drastic improvements in literacy rates and structural changes in education, especially by extending the budget allocations. State and relevant authorities also direly need to play their crucial role in providing every child with free and quality education to improve the sorry state of education in Pakistan. These millions of children deprived of this basic right can be brought back to school by ensuring their constitutional right that guarantees free and compulsory education for all children under the age of 16 years.In addition to that, education sector will not be of quality standards unless teachers are equipped with necessary training and modern techniques of teaching. Along with Infrastructural development, the availability of missing facilities should be ensured. Whereas, curriculum must be updated with the passage of time and quality material should be included in text books. If these things are put into practice, in turn, sooner or later but surely they would ensure a bright and prosperous future for Pakistan.ASSAD ALIJamshoroPublished in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.