Education is the basic right of every child. In Pakistan, nearly 23 million children are out of school. This number is equal to the total population of Sri Lanka. Government schools all over Pakistan start enrolment campaigns in September but these campaigns never focus on tangible outcomes increasing enrolment numbers. Public sector schools get no financial support for enrolment campaigns from the Government.The matter of Out of School Children (OOSC), remains unaddressed since decades because of no serious effort on the part of the government; this can be addressed through the strict implementation of Article 25-A, i.e. free and compulsory primary education and implementation of Child Labour Laws all over the country. Besides poor enrolment campaigns, dropout rates are alarmingly high in public schools because of the lack of basic facilities such as toilets, boundary walls, and electricity. Parents cannot take the risk of sending their children to a school which is functioning under a tree or in a building with no doors or electricity.Second major cause of OOSC is corporal punishment meted out in schools. Though the government has banned it, teachers still use violence in schools. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the past five years has made significant progress in education reforms in KP which played a key role in the election campaign. Improvements in public schools started with focusing on infrastructure by establishing play areas in schools, installation of interactive whiteboards, the establishment of nearly 1500 computer labs and provision of 85000 basic facilities such as toilets, clean water, electricity, and boundary walls; convincing those parents who were hardly managing to pay hefty private school fees.Besides poor enrolment campaigns, dropout rates are alarmingly high in public schools because of the lack of basic facilities such as toilets, boundary walls, and electricity. Parents cannot take the risk of sending their children to a school which is functioning under a tree or in a building with no doors or electricityMore than 151,000 students shifted from private to government schools in KP during 2016-17, according to the survey of the provincial education department. Among those who shifted from private to public sector institutions, the majority stated poverty as the main reason while a significant number acknowledged government reforms in schools. But these number only show a migration from one school, the issue of out of school children remains unaddressed due to the lack of focus on innovation in enrolment campaigns and implementation of Article 25-A which also contains punishments for parents who will not send their children to schools.The government has failed to form aggressive policies which not only ensure enrolment of all 23 million out of school students but also decides whether education continues as a public sector or private sector business. During the last five years, the number of community schools has increased because of the support of the government. Community schools have been established in influential private areas, which brings there long-term sustainability into question. However, the government has failed in devising monitoring plans for these schools.Enrolment drives in public schools start in September. In public sector schools, these enrolment drives are symbolic in nature and do not carry any targets or specific goals, therefore, as a result governments have continued to fail in decreasing the total number of the OOSC. For instance, an enrolment drive in KP usually starts on the eve of World Literacy Day, September 8. This event is sponsored by NGOs and United Nations (UN) agencies.The newspaper advertisements are issued along with a press release of the event. A lump sum target of 800,000 is set for a year but no systematic approach is adopted to meet the target or to focus more on the areas/districts where out of school children are higher in number.Some educationists believe that education should be privatised, and it is beyond the government to run this system as a social enterprise.They believe the problem of out of school children cannot be resolved unless the government forms a partnership with the private sector. There are far-flung areas where the private sector may not wish to operate, but these areas where education is needed the most.If we don’t address the right now, we will a law and order crisis in the future, when these 23 million children grow up illiterate, without any employment opportunities. Thus, the need of the hour is to find viable solutions, before it is too late!The writer is a media and communications professional. He can be contacted at Twitter: zia051Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2018.