Pakistan is far behind in the realization of basic human rights including health, water & sanitation and education. After Nigeria, Pakistan is the second country with the highest illiteracy rate in the world. On the UN’s Human Development Index report 2018, Pakistan ranks 150 out of 189 countries. This report takes education as a basic element to determine the ranking of the countries. According to UDHR everyone has the right to education, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan stipulates that “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manners as may be determined by law”. But despite all these moral and legal bindings this basic human right is still a privilege in Pakistan. Most recently Pakistan could not achieve the targets in education under MDGs which required education for all (EAF) by 2015.Education is a basic tenet of Islam. The Holy Quran which provides us a code of conduct and guides in every department of life begins with IQRA (read). Moreover, Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) said that “education is mandatory for men and women” making no discrimination on the basis of sex. He (SAW) said that “seek knowledge even you have to travel to China”. After around 1400 years of His (SAW) death it is very painful to see that clergy has confused the people with their regressive interpretations of Islamic injunctions. There is no doubt that territories with illiterate people are paradise of fools for Mullahs to rule. It must be remembered that the Golden Age of Islam (8th to 13th century) was the result of accumulation of knowledge through translation of scientific work of Greeks, Romans, Persians and Egyptians etc. As a result of it the Muslim scientists advanced in every field of science. The point worth noting is that they did not discriminate on the basis of Muslim and non-Muslim-knowledge. With progressive attitude the Muslims ruled the world for many centuries. It cannot be overemphasized that education is a prerequisite for personal growth and development of individuals which is further reflected in the fabric of the society. Education is not about the passing on of a prescribed set of information to students or memorizing some specific things just to pass the exams. It is about inculcating the skill to think about things critically, to raise inquiries in a rational and scientific way. Unfortunately, these creative learning techniques abysmally lack in our educational system which is a drastic flaw. But first and foremost the problem is the number of children in Pakistan who have no access to schools. According to some reliable sources more than 22 million children are out of school. Balochistan and tribal areas are at the top of the list. This figure not only paints a bleak picture of our educational system but also raises alarm about our standing in this age of science and technology.Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan stipulates that “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manners as may be determined by law”. But despite all these moral and legal bindings this basic human right is still a privilege in Pakistan. Most recently Pakistan could not achieve the targets in education under MDGs which required education for all (EAF) by 2015When it comes to the challenges budgetary allocation is the problem which lies at the roots. Over the last four decades, almost every government in Pakistan had promised for enhancing the budget and improving the policies for effective educational infrastructure but these promises could not be matched with increased allocation of resources. Our spending to education is still around 2.5pc of GDP which is far insufficient as compared to our neighboring countries which are; Bhutan 7.4, Iran 4.7, India 3.8 and Sri Lanka 3.5. To put it in simple way with this percentage Pakistan cannot bring all out-of school children to school especially keeping in view the population growth which always puts extra burden on our limited resources. Other contributing factors for high illiteracy are; poverty, lack of awareness, insufficient number and remote location of schools particularly for girls, rigid social norms, corporeal punishment, lack of capacity with teachers and absence of an enabling environment in school where a student should feel at home. Also war against terrorism in KP and tribal areas affected the literacy promotion campaign. The situation can be improved with proper monitoring mechanism on ground to assess the effectiveness of schools on the basis of different parameters which may be based on teaching methods, result of students, dropout rate, and attendance of teachers etc. An effective monitoring system would also discourage the Ghost schools culture in feudal areas like Sindh.In order to make a teacher a source of inspiration for students he must be taken to pass through necessary capacity building initiatives. Only a teacher equipped with modern teaching tools and techniques can boost confidence among the students. But unfortunately, teaching in Pakistan is a low-hanging-fruit. A person with fresh graduation struggling with finding a job can at least be welcomed with open arms in teaching profession. It is need of the hour to understand that teaching is a technical profession. It is not everyone’s cup of tea. The article 25-A must be translated into reality at all costs. Literacy promotion campaigns must be launched on a war-footing. Women-friendly policies and environment must be created to bridge the gender-gap in education. Illiteracy among girls is a crime for which the whole family is forced to go through. Along with literacy improvement, the curriculum also needs to be revised and updated. It must include but not be limited to gender and development, climate change, importance of SDGs, civic responsibilities of a citizen and basics of governance structure in Pakistan. Ideally there must be uniform curriculum for all schools.Last but not the least public at large must be sensitized through religious and other channels that Islam attaches a great importance to education and knowledge. Only an educated nation can keep the security of ideological and territorial boundaries intact. And the time to act is now. The writer is a development practitioner and working with South Asia Partnership-Pakistan as Manager Monitoring & EvaluationPublished in Daily Times, February 26th 2019.