Karachi: Almost six months after unprecedented floods ravaged Pakistan, more than 10 million people living in flood-affected areas remain deprived of safe drinking water. According to the UNICEF report, an estimated 20.6 million people, including 9.6 million children, need humanitarian assistance. Many of the hardest-hit districts are amongst the most vulnerable districts in Pakistan, where children already suffer from high malnutrition, poor access to water and sanitation and low school enrollment.
Around 20,000 public schools have been destroyed or considerably damaged in Sindh due to floods, depriving hundreds of thousands of poor children of education, and that too, at the most formative stage of their lives, reported Dawn.
Although the provincial government has since declared an 'educational emergency', barring some official meetings and pressers, nothing much has come forth in the form of concrete efforts on the part of the provincial or federal government to rehabilitate these ill-fated schools. While the elites are locked in an internecine power struggle, millions of flood-affected, homeless and destitute citizens have been left to fend for themselves, reported Dawn.
Most of these wretched families have been practically forced to cater to their own needs -- food, shelter, health and above all, the education of their psychologically traumatised children.
Indeed, the prospect of these forgotten children resuming their schooling anytime soon seems rather dim. Although the country is listed among the climatically most vulnerable states, there seems to be hardly any urgency or preparedness on the part of provincial and federal governments to meet the impending, let alone long-term, climatic challenges, reports the Dawn.
Public education -- particularly among poorer sections -- has hardly been a government priority. UNICEF reckons that Pakistan has the world's second-highest number of out-of-school children.
The numbers themselves are horrifying: 22.8 million children aged five to 16 or 44 per cent of the total population in this age group are out of school; 5 million children drop out after the primary level; 11.4 million adolescents aged 10 to 14 don't receive any formal education. In Sindh, 52 per cent of the poorest children (58 per cent of them girls) are out of school, reported Dawn.
The other ills include low national spending on public education, a dilapidated educational infrastructure, poor quality of teaching, curricula guided by faith and ideology rather than facts and science, and the opaque recruitment of teachers.
Sindh has been disproportionately affected by the 2022 floods, which significantly damaged houses, transport, agriculture, irrigation and communication infrastructure.
According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by the World Bank and the UNDP, Sindh’s overall needs assessment for post-flood recovery and reconstruction stands at US$7.9 billion, which is the highest of all the provinces in floods affected areas of Pakistan.
(with ANI inputs)
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