Media Talks: Education and Inflation

Growing inflation increasingly threatens education in Pakistan. The recent inflation and the devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee have left parents of school-going children grasping at straws. The daily requirements for school students along with tuition fees have seen an increase due to the recent price hike.

These educational necessities will soon be out of the reach for countless living on a day-to-day basis. A conventional political style blame game ensues when the publishers are often found blaming the decreased paper production to be the cause of increased textbook prices. The diminishing forests of Pakistan coupled with illegal logging activities that go unchecked have caused the price of wood to increase exponentially.

“Degree Inflation” and the Growing Need 

Degree Inflation is a term that defines the growing demand for employees that have acquired professional degrees even if the position did not require one. Mr. Manjrani Raman says “It’s a widespread problem” currently working as a director on the project “Managing the Future of Work” at Harvard Business School.

In a 2017 paper, Mr. Manjrani Raman highlights the fact, that companies demand professional degrees for positions that do not require it. He describes it as “the degree gap” when in 2015, only 16% of production supervisors employed in the US had a college degree while 67% of job postings for the same position required one.

The advancements in technology and the fast-paced global market have increased the need for qualified workers, especially in the big cities of Pakistan. However, the growing tuition fees for private schools and the government’s budget cuts on education have pushed the youth between a rock and a hard place.

Inflation in Pakistan and the Cost of Education

At the turn of the century, the global community sat down at the United Nations Millennium Declaration in September 2000. Pakistan as one of the signatories vowed to achieve a net enrolment of primary education of 100% by 2015, which the country failed with only 60.9% in that year according to The World Bank.

Contrary to the agreement signed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the existing educational infrastructure has weakened pushing more kids out of school. Economic studies in Pakistan point towards a 1.2% increase in the inflation rate every month in 2022. The rise resulted in skyrocketing prices for basic supplies and utilities needed to run the country’s schools.

The worsening condition has seen philanthropic work and resources directed towards education and skill development. As a Pakistani businessman, Mr. Shoaib Shaikh has vowed to educate 10 million children raising the net primary enrolment of the country as per the MDGs. Mr. Shoaib also believes that skill development through better education practices is the only way out of Pakistan’s economic crisis. As education exerts a positive impact on the level of Human productivity influencing factors like workforce, resources, and energy efficiency.

The Pakistani government wants to improve the country’s skilled workforce, which now employs a large number of people in other countries. The help of various stakeholders in the country is crucial in ensuring a sustainable solution to the problem.

Pandemic Woes

The status of the education system has worsened in recent years with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has seen the shutdown of schools worldwide. The closure of physical classes meant more use of electronic means that caused additional financial strain on families. The recent opening of physical classes has been no better as inflation continues to increase the price of education in Pakistan. The rising expense of education is putting a strain on the budgets of poor and middle-class families, so it is critical to address the issues that are driving up school costs. It’s past time for the government, particularly at the provincial and local levels, to acknowledge the reality.

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