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Hello all! I'm new to the forum and looking forward to constructive (even if sometimes contentious) discussions with fellow members in the days to come.

I'm curious to understand historical, cultural, and political reasons for why the literacy rate and educational standard in Pakistan/ with Pakistani people are so low. While I know South Asia was historically deprived, the other countries seem to have fared much better and made progress in literacy and education by leaps and bounds, at least when compared to Pakistan.

The other point is more of an observation. As I come across folks from many different backgrounds and cultures, including several from various parts of South Asia, those from Pakistan come across as less liberal and less versed in being able to hold their own in conversations and discussions as they relate to topics of science, technology, world politics, world history, and such. Similarly, their comfort level with the english language is much lower than other South Asians or even those from Middle East and Africa (I mention that only to wonder if that may be a reason for them being behind the curve compared to others, due to availability of enough/ quality educational content in your local languages).

Also, the frame of mind/ thinking patterns seem to be totally different, misaligned with how most of the others think (not just other South Asians in this case, but even Middle East, Africa, Europe, other parts of Asia, and certainly North America). Seems like the rest of the world has converged on a relatively singular/ well-aligned view of the world and how things work, but Pakistanis seem to think/ live in their own world that very rarely resonates with the rest of the world.

What are the reasons for this? Would love to get people's thoughts on this topic!
 
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Alternatiiv

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Hello all! I'm new to the forum and looking forward to constructive (even if sometimes contentious) discussions with fellow members in the days to come.

I'm curious to understand historical, cultural, and political reasons for why the literacy rate and educational standard in Pakistan/ with Pakistani people are so low. While I know South Asia was historically deprived, the other countries seem to have fared much better and made progress in literacy and education by leaps and bounds, at least when compared to Pakistan.

The other point is more of an observation. As I come across folks from many different backgrounds and cultures, including several from various parts of South Asia, those from Pakistan come across as less liberal and less versed in being able to hold their own in conversations and discussions as they relate to topics of science, technology, world politics, world history, and such. Similarly, their comfort level with the english language is much lower than other South Asians or even those from Middle East and Africa (I mention that only to wonder if that may be a reason for them being behind the curve compared to others, due to availability of enough/ quality educational content in your local languages).

Also, the frame of mind/ thinking patterns seem to be totally different, misaligned with how most of the others think (not just other South Asians in this case, but even Middle East, Africa, Europe, other parts of Asia, and certainly North America). Seems like the rest of the world has converged on a relatively singular/ well-aligned view of the world and how things work, but Pakistanis seem to think/ live in their own world that very rarely resonates with the rest of the world.

What are the reasons for this? Would love to get people's thoughts on this topic!
Edit: Obviously there are many, many positive factors and strides that Pakistan its society has made. But you came here looking for the negatives, so that is what I gave you.

The question can be broken into several bits.

Starting off with education, and why the literacy rate is so low.

Quite honestly... I don't know why but I guess it's simply not taken seriously when really it should be a national emergency that 40% of children are out of school. That's a national emergency, and education should be top priority.

  1. There have always been other concerns in Pakistan which have taken the mainstream media and opinion, both public and government. Such as military, militancy, terrorism, corruption, politics, poverty, religion, public welfare in terms of housing, food, and so on. So this issue of education has never ever been at the forefront ever, unfortunately. I don't remember the last time education was taken as a serious issue except Pakistan's spending on education is just short of 3% of the GDP, and that is embarrassing.
  2. A lot of people in Pakistan are poor, specially rural parts which actually constitute the majority of Pakistan's population, I think. So, families consider it a time waste to send their children to school to study for years, and instead have them working the traditional labor from an early age. Some simply can't afford.
  3. The literacy rate of girls is lower than that of boys, and this is a problem because of the traditional societal roles that are assigned to and expected from them. Since they're going to marry off, take care of the house, and do the household chores, people don't send them to school and drop them out before college. People don't realize the value of education when it comes to bringing up a new generation.
  4. If you see the percentage of children out-of-school across primary, secondary, higher and college levels, you will see that the percentage successively grows. The reasons are a mixture of the above two; that is they're considered a time waste, require financial investment, gender roles are at play, and so on.

Pakistani people being less liberal and less into versed conversations regarding Science

Well, you might just need to update yourself because in terms of lack of liberalism, our neighbor that is India is overtaking us right now. They've grown more intolerant than us, and that is observable from social media where you usually expect to find a generally more liberal and secular view, but in India's case you will find a large, large majority just growing more and more conservative about their country and open in hatred against Islam.

Anyways, just a general point I wanted to mention. Back to Pakistan. Pakistani people are indeed less liberal and more conservative to their viewpoint, and also less likely to hold versed conversations when it comes to global affairs and science. I think there are actually two segments of society now. I will go into depth in my points below.

  1. During the 1980s, General Zia, a military dictator, initiated policies of Islamization which pushed in a lot of elements of what people regard today as Sharia Law (I say today because I don't think Sharia Law has ever been properly defined, and interpreted, every country, and point in time, has seen different versions of it) wherein the education was affected, news channels and soap operas were affected, work attire was affected, and there was propaganda all around for its implementation; these Islamization policies introduced a new mindset into the people which was a bit extreme. Religious scholars were given an upper hand and more power, and they used this power to influence people, weed out those who did not agree, and such. This mindset, and infiltration of extremism into society, has lived till this date.
  2. That was the historical perspective. Now to the present. Even today, the religious scholars are very, very highly regarded, and can close the country at a whim. They exercise a great influence over the Government, and have only grown more, and more, bold each day. To showcase this, recently during the PTI government, TLP staged a protest over a major Supreme Court case. In it, one of the group's leaders openly said that the Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, are 'vajib-ul-katal,' meaning it is legal to shed their blood, Islamically... and they had many supporters... during every Government in the last two decades, these people have staged protests which have shut down the entire country and stopped it. In the political ground, they exercise influence but not presence. If that makes sense... they have this influence and ability, but they never get seats in the Parliament from votes of the people.
  3. Now, more generally, Pakistani people really love Islam. They really love it, and there is nothing wrong with this love. The issue is that they want it everywhere, and believe it is the solution to all problems, there's sort of this underlying mindset. It should be strict, present in your clothing, education, government... everywhere. This is the result of Zia's Islamization policies, and well how the general global dynamics are right now with Iran and Saudi Arabia. They think it's part of Islam to enforce these by law. And somewhere in between with the war on terror, new interpretations, and due to power of religious scholars, these ideas have crept in.
  4. Pakistani people really love Islam, and now here's a big problem. Anytime there is some injustice against Muslims or the religion in general, people feel that the religion is in danger and they need to hold more strongly on to it! Let me tell ask you, a half century from now, how 'Islamic' were exactly the Muslim countries in the Industrial age... they were progressing very normally, then the whole War on Terror, new interpretations crept into society, and people felt Islam is in danger and so on. If today there was no injustice against Islam and Muslims, believe me, the very state of Muslim countries politically would be very different. People are more comfortable with discussing ideas that are their own and in between their people, they value it and don't want outsiders criticizing it but are okay with criticizing it themselves, but when outsiders mock it, they feel they must protect it. That's how it is.
In regards to Science, that again has to do with education, and the fact that the topics which have always hit the mainstream media and opinion, have never been education or science.

Regarding English language

Now even though, Pakistan has one of the highest English speaking populations, it is not spoken correctly to say the least. There are some pretty ordinary reasons for this.

  • Public schools never enforce an english-speaking environment. Essentially, the entire language medium is supposed to be in English save the Urdu and Islamic classes.
  • The teachers are not up to the mark, their own English is questionable and not correct.
  • Inter and Matric exams (Pakistan's higher education board exams) allow you to study the subjects in either English or Urdu, you can write your answers in either, naturally people choose Urdu. I don't know how accurate this is, I know this is a thing in rural places though, I don't know about Urban places.
  • People just don't take it serious. I have learned Turkish, Russian and German, and although I learned English naturally from a young age, learning new languages really opens up how difficult of a language English is to learn for new learners. There are no definite rules in it everywhere since it has been so globally influenced and changed, it is a really difficult language. So, when people don't take it serious, they end up with broken English skills.

The Pakistani Bubble

This is very true, funny enough. However, I am not sure as to why myself. I recon the answer would be seriously long, and this really requires an analysis of society and opinion, and also historical perspectives; like Pakistani people really love Islam and believe they're divinely chosen to defend it. I am sure what I mentioned plays a part in it. What I do know however is that there are major Youtube channels with millions of subscribers which propagate and expand this bubble, like Haqeeqat TV which says that vaccines are a Jewish conspiracy by Bill Gates to make our people infertile, and such stupidity, and millions of people believe the guy. So, there is indeed this bubble. I don't know why, but in essence due to lack of education and scientific importance, that is obvious.

My opinion about Liberalism, Secularism in Pakistan

Due to the Governments' horrible policies on education, and lack of progress to improve the education system, merit boards, and the examination systems; many, many people have opted for private education, and the Universities have largely kept themselves independent of the Government. As such private institutes and Universities have been providing a quality education. But more importantly, these have opened up free spaces where people can discuss ideas and concepts, and due to the failure of conservative policies and Islamization policies of all Government, it has given rise to more liberal and secular views, quite rapidly, in the more privileged circles. Maybe, this will be a factor many years from now.
 
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313ghazi

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Hello all! I'm new to the forum and looking forward to constructive (even if sometimes contentious) discussions with fellow members in the days to come.

I'm curious to understand historical, cultural, and political reasons for why the literacy rate and educational standard in Pakistan/ with Pakistani people are so low. While I know South Asia was historically deprived, the other countries seem to have fared much better and made progress in literacy and education by leaps and bounds, at least when compared to Pakistan.

The other point is more of an observation. As I come across folks from many different backgrounds and cultures, including several from various parts of South Asia, those from Pakistan come across as less liberal and less versed in being able to hold their own in conversations and discussions as they relate to topics of science, technology, world politics, world history, and such. Similarly, their comfort level with the english language is much lower than other South Asians or even those from Middle East and Africa (I mention that only to wonder if that may be a reason for them being behind the curve compared to others, due to availability of enough/ quality educational content in your local languages).

Also, the frame of mind/ thinking patterns seem to be totally different, misaligned with how most of the others think (not just other South Asians in this case, but even Middle East, Africa, Europe, other parts of Asia, and certainly North America). Seems like the rest of the world has converged on a relatively singular/ well-aligned view of the world and how things work, but Pakistanis seem to think/ live in their own world that very rarely resonates with the rest of the world.

What are the reasons for this? Would love to get people's thoughts on this topic!
Hi,

First of all, welcome to the forum. I hope you find you're time here constructive.

Lets talk literacy.

For a start your observations are something that should be limited to your personal experience and not something that you should consider a matter of fact. Pakistani's abroad have a fine command of the English language, and as you'll see on this forum, the quality of english used by between foreign members, Pakistanis and overseas Pakistani's is pretty much the same.

Secondly, you really shouldn't judge people's education by how well they know a foreign language. English is a foreign language in our country. You might be used to fellow Indians who come from various different states with various different languages who then end up communicating in English. In Pakistan Urdu is our national language.

This leads nicely onto our problems with education though.

1. Historically the Muslim education structure around our part of the world was the Madrasa. They were the schools and institutes of higher learning. Following the fall of the Muslim Empires in the region, they fell to the wayside due to lack of funding and later on a deliberate dismantling of the system by the British colonialists.

2. Our new education system is based on what the British built/imposed. It's not a bad system on paper, but it is under-funded, ripe with corruption (as is every other govt function in Pakistan) and has some very Pakistani flaws, which curb the success.

3. These flaws are;
- Focus on rote learning to pass exams
- Not enough focus on critical thinking and analysis
- Teaching not delivered in the local mother tongue
- Unhealthy obsession with English
- Higher education delivered exclusively in English, creating a language barrier

4. The problems don't stop there, we also have a multiple tier education system, because of the mis-management and corruption mentioned earlier.

The bottom tier is the madrasa, where kids barely learn to be literate and the focus is on recitation of Quran
(recitation, not reading - there is a difference). Of course not all are that bad, a select few are prestigious institutes where all sorts of education is available at a high standard, but as a rule of thumb - this is where the REALLY poor kids go, if they want an education.

The next rung up is a a mixture of state schools and poorly managed private schools. Again you will get some good ones, you'll get some horrific ones. The biggest problems here are those mentioned in point 3.

Then you have the expensive private schools, those which follow the international GCSE curriculum. Anyone with real money sends their kids here, their wealth buys their children a good education.

5. Corruption. The bottom line in all that is wrong in Pakistan. In some rural parts schools exist only on paper, teachers are appointed after taking bribes, standards are not imposed, parents are asked to pay for equipment and books. It creates a barrier to entry for the poor.

You add up all the little things and it leads to lower literacy and lower quality education unless your wealthy or lucky to be near a well run school (all credit to teachers and admin staff).
 

Gibbs

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@Alternatiiv @313ghazi .. Thank you both for answering the OP in clear and in concise manner, I was expecting this thread to be closed in no time given what PDF have become lately.. Especially since the whole Kashmir thing blew up and my good mate @waz went nuts for a while quite uncharacteristically, Unfortunately that made more fundamentalist posters to embolden and hold sway here and anything even minutely questionable or critical of their narrative is not tolerated.. But having read what both of you have posted made me realize why as a non Pakistani, Non Indian and a non religious person why i joined PDF in the first place, Not just another jingoistic ultra nationalist forum online.. To learn and discuss and to enhance own my knowledge.. So as we say Good onya :tup:
 

PakistaniJunior

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I guess for the "Pakistanis live in their own world" , it may just be a characteristic we have. Even to a common man, his concerns are mostly garnered around the things he cares about and that's it. That's their world, as long as that world functions or isn't disturbed, he doesn't get out of that bubble. Can you also define what you meant by "Pakistanis live in their own world" ??
 

Raghav_101

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Edit: Obviously there are many, many positive factors and strides that Pakistan its society has made. But you came here looking for the negatives, so that is what I gave you.

The question can be broken into several bits.

Starting off with education, and why the literacy rate is so low.

Quite honestly... I don't know why but I guess it's simply not taken seriously when really it should be a national emergency that 40% of children are out of school. That's a national emergency, and education should be top priority.

  1. There have always been other concerns in Pakistan which have taken the mainstream media and opinion, both public and government. Such as military, militancy, terrorism, corruption, politics, poverty, religion, public welfare in terms of housing, food, and so on. So this issue of education has never ever been at the forefront ever, unfortunately. I don't remember the last time education was taken as a serious issue except Pakistan's spending on education is just short of 3% of the GDP, and that is embarrassing.
  2. A lot of people in Pakistan are poor, specially rural parts which actually constitute the majority of Pakistan's population, I think. So, families consider it a time waste to send their children to school to study for years, and instead have them working the traditional labor from an early age. Some simply can't afford.
  3. The literacy rate of girls is lower than that of boys, and this is a problem because of the traditional societal roles that are assigned to and expected from them. Since they're going to marry off, take care of the house, and do the household chores, people don't send them to school and drop them out before college. People don't realize the value of education when it comes to bringing up a new generation.
  4. If you see the percentage of children out-of-school across primary, secondary, higher and college levels, you will see that the percentage successively grows. The reasons are a mixture of the above two; that is they're considered a time waste, require financial investment, gender roles are at play, and so on.

Pakistani people being less liberal and less into versed conversations regarding Science

Well, you might just need to update yourself because in terms of lack of liberalism, our neighbor that is India is overtaking us right now. They've grown more intolerant than us, and that is observable from social media where you usually expect to find a generally more liberal and secular view, but in India's case you will find a large, large majority just growing more and more conservative about their country and open in hatred against Islam.

Anyways, just a general point I wanted to mention. Back to Pakistan. Pakistani people are indeed less liberal and more conservative to their viewpoint, and also less likely to hold versed conversations when it comes to global affairs and science. I think there are actually two segments of society now. I will go into depth in my points below.

  1. During the 1980s, General Zia, a military dictator, initiated policies of Islamization which pushed in a lot of elements of what people regard today as Sharia Law (I say today because I don't think Sharia Law has ever been properly defined, and interpreted, every country, and point in time, has seen different versions of it) wherein the education was affected, news channels and soap operas were affected, work attire was affected, and there was propaganda all around for its implementation; these Islamization policies introduced a new mindset into the people which was a bit extreme. Religious scholars were given an upper hand and more power, and they used this power to influence people, weed out those who did not agree, and such. This mindset, and infiltration of extremism into society, has lived till this date.
  2. That was the historical perspective. Now to the present. Even today, the religious scholars are very, very highly regarded, and can close the country at a whim. They exercise a great influence over the Government, and have only grown more, and more, bold each day. To showcase this, recently during the PTI government, TLP staged a protest over a major Supreme Court case. In it, one of the group's leaders openly said that the Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, are 'vajib-ul-katal,' meaning it is legal to shed their blood, Islamically... and they had many supporters... during every Government in the last two decades, these people have staged protests which have shut down the entire country and stopped it. In the political ground, they exercise influence but not presence. If that makes sense... they have this influence and ability, but they never get seats in the Parliament from votes of the people.
  3. Now, more generally, Pakistani people really love Islam. They really love it, and there is nothing wrong with this love. The issue is that they want it everywhere, and believe it is the solution to all problems, there's sort of this underlying mindset. It should be strict, present in your clothing, education, government... everywhere. This is the result of Zia's Islamization policies, and well how the general global dynamics are right now with Iran and Saudi Arabia. They think it's part of Islam to enforce these by law. And somewhere in between with the war on terror, new interpretations, and due to power of religious scholars, these ideas have crept in.
  4. Pakistani people really love Islam, and now here's a big problem. Anytime there is some injustice against Muslims or the religion in general, people feel that the religion is in danger and they need to hold more strongly on to it! Let me tell ask you, a half century from now, how 'Islamic' were exactly the Muslim countries in the Industrial age... they were progressing very normally, then the whole War on Terror, new interpretations crept into society, and people felt Islam is in danger and so on. If today there was no injustice against Islam and Muslims, believe me, the very state of Muslim countries politically would be very different. People are more comfortable with discussing ideas that are their own and in between their people, they value it and don't want outsiders criticizing it but are okay with criticizing it themselves, but when outsiders mock it, they feel they must protect it. That's how it is.
In regards to Science, that again has to do with education, and the fact that the topics which have always hit the mainstream media and opinion, have never been education or science.

Regarding English language

Now even though, Pakistan has one of the highest English speaking populations, it is not spoken correctly to say the least. There are some pretty ordinary reasons for this.

  • Public schools never enforce an english-speaking environment. Essentially, the entire language medium is supposed to be in English save the Urdu and Islamic classes.
  • The teachers are not up to the mark, their own English is questionable and not correct.
  • Inter and Matric exams (Pakistan's higher education board exams) allow you to study the subjects in either English or Urdu, you can write your answers in either, naturally people choose Urdu. I don't know how accurate this is, I know this is a thing in rural places though, I don't know about Urban places.
  • People just don't take it serious. I have learned Turkish, Russian and German, and although I learned English naturally from a young age, learning new languages really opens up how difficult of a language English is to learn for new learners. There are no definite rules in it everywhere since it has been so globally influenced and changed, it is a really difficult language. So, when people don't take it serious, they end up with broken English skills.

The Pakistani Bubble

This is very true, funny enough. However, I am not sure as to why myself. I recon the answer would be seriously long, and this really requires an analysis of society and opinion, and also historical perspectives; like Pakistani people really love Islam and believe they're divinely chosen to defend it. I am sure what I mentioned plays a part in it. What I do know however is that there are major Youtube channels with millions of subscribers which propagate and expand this bubble, like Haqeeqat TV which says that vaccines are a Jewish conspiracy by Bill Gates to make our people infertile, and such stupidity, and millions of people believe the guy. So, there is indeed this bubble. I don't know why, but in essence due to lack of education and scientific importance, that is obvious.

My opinion about Liberalism, Secularism in Pakistan

Due to the Governments' horrible policies on education, and lack of progress to improve the education system, merit boards, and the examination systems; many, many people have opted for private education, and the Universities have largely kept themselves independent of the Government. As such private institutes and Universities have been providing a quality education. But more importantly, these have opened up free spaces where people can discuss ideas and concepts, and due to the failure of conservative policies and Islamization policies of all Government, it has given rise to more liberal and secular views, quite rapidly, in the more privileged circles. Maybe, this will be a factor many years from now.

Fine answer mate. Appreciate your effort.
However, the explanation of low literacy isnt satisfactory. India has a larger number and percentage of poor people compared to Pakistan but our literacy rate is good. Primary school level enrollment ratio in India is more than 95%.

Its about political will I think. Single last 20 years or so , great emphasis was placed on education by gvt through focussed missions. The primary teacher is a very well paid in India. Avg salary of a teacher teaching in village schools in India is 60,000 Indian rupees per month.
 

Haris Ali2140

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IMO biggest factor ragarding low literacy rate is lack of jobs after you graduate. When poor parents see highly educated people who are jobless they lose their confidence and opt for child labour.

2nd factor is low number of educational institutes when compared to students. For example there are 3000 slots for medical course in Govt. colleges however applicants are more then 100k. This leaves out a large number of students who have nothing else to do, so instead of wasting time on education which wont take them anywhere they opt for working from early age so atleast they can support their family.

Fine answer mate. Appreciate your effort.
However, the explanation of low literacy isnt satisfactory. India has a larger number and percentage of poor people compared to Pakistan but our literacy rate is good. Primary school level enrollment ratio in India is more than 95%.

Its about political will I think. Single last 20 years or so , great emphasis was placed on education by gvt through focussed missions. The primary teacher is a very well paid in India. Avg salary of a teacher teaching in village schools in India is 60,000 Indian rupees per month.
Pay is same here too.
 

AgNoStiC MuSliM

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Fine answer mate. Appreciate your effort.
However, the explanation of low literacy isnt satisfactory. India has a larger number and percentage of poor people compared to Pakistan but our literacy rate is good. Primary school level enrollment ratio in India is more than 95%.

Its about political will I think. Single last 20 years or so , great emphasis was placed on education by gvt through focussed missions. The primary teacher is a very well paid in India. Avg salary of a teacher teaching in village schools in India is 60,000 Indian rupees per month.
How is government monitoring of schools in rural areas in India and can you provide some specifics, if available?

Also does it vary state by state? Kerala would probably be the best template to study given their enormous success in achieving almost 100% literacy.

Pakistan has a massive problem with schools and teachers that basically exist just on paper in the rural areas. The funds for school construction, refurbishment, equipment etc get stolen, teachers are basically political loyalists or friends/family of political loyalists so unqualified and/or collect salaries without showing up.

Parts of Pakistan where local feudal lords hold sway tend to see these kinds of issues more than others since local feudal lords have a vested interest in continuing to oppress & suppress the people on their land for their own economic and political benefit.
 

Mentee

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Literate are those people who can read and write. One of the reasons of Pakistan's lowest literacy rate in south Asia is low female literacy. Female literacy rate is 46 percent in Pakistan and 65 percent in India.
Which sources you are reading these stats from? :D
 

Nefarious

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Corrupt leaders depriving education, keeping the population ignorant in order to keep their seats.

Fun fact : Born and bred in the U.K. In 1990 I attended a school in an Azad Kashmir village, for a few months. They just taught how to read and write Urdu. We wrote on a Takhti (wooden board thing),ink well and wood pen. I was like "mom, they don't have a board, pen or paper and you have to wash the wood after you write on it!". My hands were always black with ink while I was there. Fun.
 

Mentee

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I think he is right. Agar yakeen nhi aata to unko budget sa comparison karlo.

Pakistani sst teacher gets around this much but I doubt Indians get remuneration anywhere near to that. And a mere budget comparison is not enough.


We have take into account the govt salary slabs which are better in Pakistan than india. Or Ap socha Kam Kro :P
 

313ghazi

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Corrupt leaders depriving education, keeping the population ignorant in order to keep their seats.

Fun fact : Born and bred in the U.K. In 1990 I attended a school in an Azad Kashmir village, for a few months. They just taught how to read and write Urdu. We wrote on a Takhti (wooden board thing),ink well and wood pen. I was like "mom, they don't have a board, pen or paper and you have to wash the wood after you write on it!". My hands were always black with ink while I was there. Fun.
I visited Pakistan around the same time, was shocked to see my cousins using those tools to write with. It was just for the youngsters to practise writing, but even as a kid it surprised me. Disgraceful state of affairs. Their school had no seats back then. The school now has seats, no toilets though - and the school day is like a half day.
 

Gibbs

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Corrupt leaders depriving education, keeping the population ignorant in order to keep their seats.
Political and religious, Age old tactic since time immemorial and particularly employed well by the Roman Catholic Papacy in the dark ages and other organized religions later on.. It's easier to control their sheep when they're brain dead and does'nt question authority.. Brain wash children while young and create their flock
 

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