Malala, Satyarthi and right to education in India-Pak region: Will Nobel prize bring a change?

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Malala, Satyarthi and right to education in India-Pak region: Will Nobel prize bring a change?
Bangalore, Oct 10: This time the Nobel Committee has decided to dedicate its Peace Prize for the children in Pakistan-India region. Both the winners of the prestigious award, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, are child rights activists from Pakistan and India respectively. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the two "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."  "The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim - an Indian and a Pakistani - to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism," the judges said in a statement.

Both the countries celebrate independence day on adjacent days - India on August 15 and Pakistan on August 14. Pakistan broke away from India and declared itself as an independent country on August 14, 1947. 

The award comes at a time when India-Pakistan relations are at the lowest point in recent times.

There are many social issues faced by both the countries in common and children's right to education is one of them. Sad state of education in both the countries is also seen as one of the major causes of the rise of terrorism in the region.

Dismal state of girls' education in Pakistan

According to a UNESCO report, the overall literacy rate in Pakistan is 46 per cent, while only 26 per cent of girls are literate. The UNESCO report shows the dismal state of girls' education in Pakistan: "Some 7 million girls under 10 go to primary schools, 5.4 million between 10 and 14 attend lower secondary school, and 3 million go to higher secondary schools. About 1.5 million and 0.5 million girls respectively go to higher secondary schools/colleges and universities". The situation is the most critical in NWFP and Baluchistan, where the female literacy rate stands between 3 per cent and 8 per cent, says the report.

According to UNESCO, more than three million girls are out of school in Pakistan, while spending on education has decreased to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2010. Pakistan spends nearly 7 times more on the military than on education. 

Situation is slightly better in India; But the country has a long way to go

School dropout rates are very high in India, says UNICEF. An estimated 8.1 million children are out of school, majority of those belonging to the disadvantaged groups.

UNICEF report says that wide gender disparities exist in education. For every 100 boys enrolled in secondary education, there are 81 girls enrolled.

According to Unesco's 11th Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2014, 90% of children from poor families in India  remain illiterate despite completing four years of school education. Around 30% of children remain illiterate even after attending five-six years of school. 

According to estimates, there are over 17 million child workers in India.

As quoted by Zee News, the Nobel winner Kailash Satyarthi, who founded 'Bachpan Bachao Andolan', a Delhi-based NGO working against child labour, says "As against three lakh government inspections for tracking child labour including children working at home during 2007-12, prosecutions have been made only in 25,000 cases and conviction rate in these cases has been merely 10 per cent."

In 2012, the Union Cabinet passed and amended the Child Labour (prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986 which banson all forms of child labour for children who have not completed 14 years of age.

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