PTI will declare a national emergency to tackle illiteracy

Published: April 11, 2013

The plan states that the moment my party assumes power I will declare an “education emergency”. PHOTO: REUTERS

Illiteracy is one of the biggest obstacles to Pakistan’s social and economic progress. Literacy is a fundamental human right and is essential to social and human development. For individuals, families, and societies alike, it is an instrument of empowerment to improve people’s health, income, and their relationship with the world.

It is a national shame that Pakistan’s illiteracy rate of around 46% is creating a nation oppressed by poor life outcomes, such as poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, crime, violence and long term illness.

That is why last year I commissioned international scholar Dr Azeem Ibrahim to research and put together the most comprehensive and realistic plan to eliminate illiteracy in Pakistan. After numerous discussions that went late into the night, I am pleased to announce that the PTI will publish its multi-pronged ten-year strategy to reach full literacy in Pakistan very shortly.

The plan states that the moment my party assumes power I will declare an “education emergency”.

I have vowed to increase the education budget from 2.1% to 5% of the GDP. Illiteracy in Pakistan is costing an estimated $5.86 billion or 1.2% of GDP. The one-off investment in a successful literacy campaign will have diminishing costs and increasing returns over ten years, increasing the country’s GDP and lifting the country out of its current cycle of poverty, discord and violence.

As head of the reformist party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), I unveiled my party’s comprehensive policy on education on February 20, 2013. We aim to provide equal opportunity for quality education for every citizen and to remove poverty as a barrier for children to realise their potential.

Guided by the concept of an Islamic Welfare State, our campaign will increase literacy so that Pakistan can achieve its full potential and status in the world of nations in the 21st century.

Tackling illiteracy starts with achieving universal primary education so that Pakistan’s 25 million children, who at present do not go to school, will have an opportunity for free, accessible, excellent primary education in a system that is uniform throughout the country.  Educational institutions will be devolved to the town level with management at district and sub-district levels.  Curriculums will be improved, teacher training radically increased and a new school building program will be initiated nationwide.

At the same time, I will create a special task force to pursue reaching full literacy in Pakistan by 2025, with a state sponsored mass literacy campaign for adults, making the best use of available resources. This will be an organised campaign using private and public sector resources, with major public media input and with programmes planned with relevance to poor and rural communities.

I believe that the people of Pakistan deserve a vastly improved national social fabric, with a more prosperous and educated working and middle class and a means to lift the illiterate half of Pakistan out of poverty.

It is time to put an end to the years of consistent underfunding of education and to overcome the political, social and cultural obstacles that have created this unacceptable level of illiteracy in our country.

I vow to create an historic starting point for Pakistan’s future as an educated nation.

It is time to act to stop this human tragedy once and for all.

Do you think Imran Khan's policy on education will be successful?

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Follow Imran Khan on Twitter @ImranKhanPTI



Imran Khan (PTI)

Imran Khan

Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Jamaluddin

    As always the brilliant Imran Khan. The day he becomes the PM, he will usher Pakistan in its golden age ! mark my words.Recommend

  • Queen

    I am with IK. It is great to see that unlike other political parties, PTI is focusing on issues like education .Recommend

  • Jamshed M

    Yes you Khan!!! Yes We Khan!!!Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    It makes me SO happy that you chose to write on this forum. May the Lord be with you. I think you’ll do it. Recommend

  • The Notes

    lets hope for a positive change…Recommend

  • Ya

    Never eulogize a leader before you see its performanceRecommend

  • http://tribune jamal

    Imran Niazi sahib what will happen when u awake up Recommend

  • Sad

    It contains mission statement, a promise to increase spending on education but nothing else is concrete. The consultancy services of Mr. Ibrahim seem to have been wasted.Recommend

  • Atiq Ahmed

    Brilliant Idea !! what a way to connect with youth and write for ET blogs.Recommend

  • MAD

    This is what a leader does. You have my vote :).Recommend

  • http://Lahore Iram

    Don’t miss this opportunity and vote for the bright future of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Tribune Reader

    Khan on ET blogs, wheres the OMG OMG OMG I Can’t believe its Khan Crowd?Recommend

  • umer

    True that… My vote for PTI ..Recommend

  • Captain Obvious

    This is epic!Recommend

  • Shakeel N

    Definitely illiteracy is one of the major issues that is hindering in progress of the country. It is quite promising that PTI is giving it due importance. Instead of hollow claims like other political parties in Pakistan, PTI has done proper planning and sketched out strategies for tackling this issue. I pray that PTI come to power and solve the issues currently faced by our beloved country.Recommend

  • Smssr84

    Brilliant!! Now can we have blogs from Nawaz Sharief, Bilawal Zardari, Altaf Bhai & Mulana Fazlu?! Plz!! Pretty please!!Recommend

  • ali

    PTI All the Way! IA!Recommend

  • Abbas

    If you really mean what you are saying, then my vote is for you. I don’t need any other promise. Now let’s watch whether it’s a promise of politician or promise of true man.Recommend

  • FN

    Here is Imran Khan commenting on policies and issues that hurt Pakistan.

    Shows who actually wants to serve Pakistan and had sincere intentions.

    Vote for PTI :) Recommend

  • Jamshed M

    Why u no promise for bullet train and metro bus :( Recommend

  • Fatima

    Your vision and plans for an educated Pakistan are certainly commendable, and I hope that election results sway in your favor. Even if they don’t, I do hope that you win majority seats in a major province to begin implementing your plans as a more piloted effort.

    Having said that, increasing funding for education and employing an expert to make a ten-year policy still leaves questions of implementation unanswered. There are several issues I think your policy (I read the ppt) does not address.

    You’ve mentioned adult literacy, primary, secondary and higher education. However, there needs to be a more comprehensive policy for female literacy in particular, the gap between male and female literacy rates in Pakistan is extremely high, and you will find that scientific research relates female literacy more strongly with measures of health, population, economic circumstances and general familial well-being.

    Also, I believe you are dealing with populations that want inherently different outcomes from the education system. There are people who will use the education system to excel and prosper within Pakistan, and then there are people whom the education system must enable to compete internationally. Matriculating, for example, is an effective system for students of engineering and medicine, but it does not work for people studying humanities and business, which is why so many of them take O and A’level examinations.

    Lastly, I really wish politicians would include other actors in policy discussions. It’s okay to come up with an initial plan without the clutter of “too many minds”, but you must allow immediate feedback from nonprofits, the private and public education sector, teachers, students, parents, education researchers, administrators, communications specialists/sociologists for campaigns etc to make the policy more effective and implementable. It doesn’t have to be an ineffective discussion with 50 people sitting at a table or at a conference, it can be through focus groups or interviews depending on the audience, but that kind of effort would go a long way.

    P.S I doubt you’ll read all the feedback from the blog personally (especially when it’s this long) but I do hope your media/strategy experts are paying heed, we’re only humble Pakistani citizens but good feedback can go a long way. And the best part? It’s free. Recommend

  • yahya khalid

    Great imran will deliver INSHALLAHRecommend

  • Mohsin Raza

    PTI is rising rapidly as the elections approach. Intra Party Elections, Policy Papers and a radical manifesto, all pointing towards the peak that PTI shall gain during and after elections. Wish you luck PTI!Recommend

  • Hamda binte Ajmal

    Remove Poverty. Education is secondary
    No one will go to a school with an empty stomach!Recommend

  • Madah Khawn

    This is very much doable. It needs will and commitment.Recommend

  • Rehman

    This is a leader who carries a vision to work on. He is not egoist and fake leader who moves with the winds. Recommend

  • Ali Abbasi

    Said it all, said it right. +1Recommend

  • ali hassan razzaq

    great shot sir i,m your follower you are a historic personalityRecommend

  • Khan


  • Fatima

    @Hamda binte Ajmal: Uum, isn’t the whole point of education (whether in schools or vocational) that people would be empowered out of poverty? You can feed a hungry person the whole year (and maybe that can be one incentive to educate people), but if you don’t empower people to begin putting food on the table through their own effort and skills, you won’t be able to “remove poverty” either. Recommend

  • Op

    Excellently wrote… we need to vote for PTI for our future generationsRecommend

  • Weird

    Whose share will be cut to make way for the education expenditure?Recommend

  • aaaaa

    The PMLN is already doing this. Let me repeat that. THE PMLN IS ALREADY DOING THIS!!!!!!

    Read this report:

    If your attention span is too short, read this article:

    Or this one:

    None of these three are written by anybody affiliated with PMLN in any way.

    While Imran Khan’s plan is certainly praiseworthy, the PMLN has gone one better and IMPLEMENTED it. Which has achieved great results.Recommend

  • Arcane

    Nothing new we are living under emergency since 1947.Recommend

  • Tahir Mahmood

    Brilliant and patriotic initiative.Recommend

  • Mubariz Siddiqui

    “Illiteracy in Pakistan is costing an estimated $5.86 billion or 1.2% of GDP.”

    Just out of curiosity, how did you determine the figure?Recommend

  • afza siddiqui

    provide education.roti kapra or makaan hm khud hasil kr len ge :)
    even if this blog is not written personally by imran khan it is praiseworthy to note that how PTI values its voters and especially youth.commendable IK :)Recommend

  • citizen

    For a split while reading this article second i actually imagined Pakistan with soaring literacy rate and being ranked in DEVELOPED nations category . It would be so amazing ! so amazing ! i wish it happens in reality. Way to go IKRecommend

  • Faisal

    Nothing but BAT on May 11th!!Recommend

  • shakeel ahmad

    MashaAllah, Imran Khan has the best and honest brain and will be best for our country.Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Come up with something new. Recommend

  • random squealer

    OMG ITS KHAAAN !!Recommend

  • Realistic Pakistani

    First time i agree with Mr. khan. However, you need to first address the issue of terrorism to implement your plan; otherwise, they will blow up schools, teachers, and everyone involved in this project. You should also focus on female education and direct your efforts to not only increasing literacy but also reducing the gap between male and female literacy rates in Pakistan. We don’t want every other girl to have a fate like Malalas..Recommend

  • faizan

    This is what we all dream of.

    However, I am afraid that people in this country are still not able to recover from their blindness, short term memory loss and selfishness. They are still willing to vote for the tested and failed.

    May Allah help us. My vote is for PTI. I am with Imran Khan no matter how long we have to wait.Recommend

  • Clarus

    People are illiterate not by choice but due to misery and poverty. Once that kid and his family gets food to eat, only then he will think of going to school. So first give us food/health care.Recommend

  • asif abbas

    We are with IMRAN KHAN and we believe he is a true leader . We ll vote for NAYA PAKISTAN INSHALLAH Recommend

  • Shafiq

    @aaaaa: What program have they implemented? The only education reform they initiated was the computerized system which backfired on a grand scale. They haven’t done any useful things to improve the QUALITY of education. The cramming system hasn’t been dealt with.Recommend

  • Salman

    Well at least he has a vision, policy and a plan…what about other parties. I am voting for PTI….I am voting for Pakistan.Recommend

  • farrah Assama

    if given a fair chance this man will bring about changes in the system,i am convinced i hope all of you are too.Please vote for change vote for Imran Khan i know he will deliverRecommend

  • Sarah

    i m glad someone thought that Education is a must for our society…i would suggest to reach as far as tribal areas and no-go areas of the country as well. Also there needs to be a clear definition of who is literate and who is not….writing is a name should not be the only criteria.

    Also, syallabus should be updated as per the need. not everyone in primary needs to know about Hi fi science and geography…so syllabus must be made relevant with emphasis on clear cut communication of islamic ideas in simple words causei have seen such examples that i feel ashamed of being a Muslim in Pakistan.

    We are all there to help you out if there is any need!

    good luck Imran Khan!Recommend

  • ABC

    My Dear Imran Khan, when will you stop rocking? ;)Recommend

  • Muzammil

    Great words by Imran, as usual. My vote for PTI.Recommend

  • ss

    what will happen if you don’t win? don’t raise our hope IK please.Recommend

  • Noble Tufail

    Where there is will there is way .. Keeping going IK like Columbus. Recommend


    in,shaa,Allah me ,my friends,nieghbours and my whole family will vote for PTI Recommend

  • Okara Bull

    If you’re totally illiterate and living on one dollar a day, the benefits of globalization never come to you.
    we must know if we dont know mathematics we are like ordinary man looking at a mountain is like an illiterate person confronted with a Greek manuscript.
    Society and individuals will need to make challenging choices; mathematics provides us with tools to make informed decisions..
    more than 99% Pakistani dont know even the benifits and fun of knowing the mathematicaRecommend

  • Zoi

    wonderful plan…half of the problems will get solved with this strategy….

    Keep it up Khan Sahib!Recommend

  • non political

    He is educated and he knows what to do..development never comes from jangla bus service…its is indeed education which builds nations…bravoRecommend

  • Pakistani

    “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader, of the next generation” -James Freeman Clarke.
    Though IK has effective policies, but my advice will be that he should try to implement and set up schools even if he is unable to sweep elections. Moreover its not only the setting-up of better schools that’s need to be achieved, but changing the mind-sets of conservative parents, who willingly do not send their children to school, is also needed.Recommend

  • H.A

    If the plan gets implemented and the outcome is more than Positive (Insha’ALLAH),


  • red and green

    We the people of KPK are with u and hope every1 will realiseRecommend

  • Nadeem

    Banay Ga Naya PakistanRecommend

  • xia

    Why any 1 should oppose Imran Khan?

    I say Imran Khan deserves a chanceRecommend

  • Sana

    I am totally voting for you man. You’re the man.
    Please please bring change to Pakistan. Thats all I want and every body wants for putting in so much trust in you.
    Just change as I, as a girl would love to roam and walk on the streets with independence and freedom.
    A positive Pakistan. Please please make this country a better place for me and my coming generations
    -A 19 year old girl.Recommend

  • Humayun Altaf

    @Sad: You need to read the policy document on education reforms, here is the link but i am sure you are not going to read it as people just believe in accusing IK/PTI.

  • Ahmad

    In Khan, I Trust!Recommend

  • Aiman

    Vote for PTI, Vote for Naya PakistanRecommend

  • Salman Zafar


  • Hassan

    We love you Imran and trust what you say you will deliver. Desparate to see you as our Prime Minister in few weeks time (Insha Allah).Recommend

  • Chugtai Rizwan

    Thank GOD someone talked about education. I believe there will be a Healthy and Positive change in Pakistan after Imaran Khan’s success..
    Be a part of change and make your full contribution for Naya Pakistan.Recommend

  • Abbas

    Never. He is really made made to rock….:)
    Given the chance to implement his policies, Inshallaha Pakistan will rock also.
    Vote Imran
    Save PakistanRecommend

  • Khan crowd

    @Tribune Reader:
    OMG OMG OMG Right here.

    Mr. Khan has my vote and my family’s and I will make sure my neighbours’ too.Recommend

  • Carol Grayson

    Pakistan currently ranks 113th out of 120 nations in terms of literacy. Imran Khan’s programme is a very important initiative that will open doors, build confidence and help to empower many people. PTI also recognizes the need to tackle adult literacy… it is never too late to learn and I have seen adults cry with happiness when they have learnt to read and write their first sentence!

    I agree with Fatima re gender equality in this area.

    Consultation is important but not to get too embroiled in a talking shop, endless debates. I have seen many adults learn to read through community programmes, utilizing retired teachers… GOOD LUCK AND GET STARTED!Recommend

  • Muzammil

    Nation can not bar to support old parties any more .. lets pray and hope for the better change .. In the interest of Pakistan and in the interest of nation..Recommend

  • Muzammil

    Nation can not bear have any of the old party any more .. lets pray and hope for the better change .. In the interest of Pakistan and in the interest of nation..Recommend

  • http://a AJREDS

    Still won’t vote for ANYONE who doesn’t qualify under Article 62/63. Recommend

  • roadkashehzada

    he has the biggest merchandiser of education of pakistan in his can he improve education with khursheed kasuri on key position in his party?or may be mr. kasuri see it as a big business opportunity under the shiny term of public private partnership.
    what will IK do in his emergency? education is one sector where pervez ilahi and shahbaz sharif both have tried their best through incentives / threats to teacher, refresher courses, trying to privatize schools, monitoring by army etc. not sure if imran khan has magic stick?Recommend

  • Ali S

    If this really is ‘the’ Imran Khan, this should be on the front page, not tucked away in some kona khudra of the Blogs section.Recommend

  • Tahir Ali Khan

    It’s commendable that IK intends to increase spending on education but mere 5% is not enough….we need at least 20% to 30% of GDP spending on education immediately with the target being at least twice the amount we spend on our defence. Only then can we call it educational emergency. Recommend

  • roadkashehzada

    imran khan, confuse as ever. current federal budget has nothing to do with primary education. school education is funded by provinces and get enough money for khan sb need to focus, if he increases the federal budget for education, that will be for higher education. and if he needs to focus on school education he needs to have a good team in provinces which i m not sure he has. anybody know some top leader of PTI ready to be CM of any province?Recommend

  • Ali tanoli

    Dear Imran Khan salam o elekum,
    I am not too educated but i feel the importence of education and think u can do it the way u did many thing before in your life lottery in Haram in islam but i have seen how good is in north america for education when they spend it on free school free meal free breakfast and no uniform required for children untill 12th grade education
    best of luck sir.Recommend

  • Stranger

    Yes we need some such thing in both the countries. I meant Ind and Pak. We need fresh young blood in politics and not some one who inherits political seats from his father and grand father.Recommend

  • Stranger

    I like the way he has dressed for the interview. not the usual kurti pyjama to attract voters but pant and shirt and suit. Recommend

  • MK

    On a side note, how much importance would you give our agricultural sector? In educating our farmers on improving farming techniques? We can up our exports tenfold with more efficient irrigation procedures.
    And don’t you think we need a huge campaign to clean up massive areas to provide basics like clean water and food? It’s disgusting when you see what channels we are getting our food and drink from, and this is also giving rise to more disease. Please take action before it’s way too late. Recommend

  • Ali


    What makes you think it will be any different this time round?
    There was certainly money for tax cuts for the rich, yellow taxis, the exploitation of Pakistan Railways, but no money for education.

    Schools across Punjab are collapsing, have no running water or sanitation. I personally doubt the figures espoused in these links. Short of an independant review from an NGO I doubt these claims very much.Recommend

  • aaaaa


    I see you didnt bother reading the links i posted. so why did you even reply? your question is rather idiotic. the first step to literacy is getting children in school. everything else comes next.Recommend

  • Asim

    PTI is the only party which has come up with detailed policies and a manifesto. If elected, then PTI will implement these policies which will certainly improve the condition of education in Pakistan.

    But a bigger issue facing youth in Pakistan is unemployment, not just education. 80-90% of Pakistani graduates every year do not get a job within 1-2 years of graduation. They are sitting idle at home or roaming the streets helplessly for their first job.

    PTI should come up with a jobs policy also. Jobs can be grown in pakistan if both government and private sector focus on local development of products and services instead of importing foreign products forever. When govt and private investors invtested in telecom sector in Pakistan, it created more than 10,000 jobs.
    Investment in local industries will create new businesses and hence new jobs. Unemployment is one of the most crtical issues facing Pakistani youth. Hopefully, PTI can provide the right training and education to youth so that they become useful and employable members of society later. Recommend

  • Mufazzil

    I dont know if PTI would be able to win seats even if they won and eventually Imran Khan became the PM would he be able to fulfill his promises or not. For now, I guess PTI is the only party that is atleast giving us hope to rise. Even if they failed to fulfill their promises, for now I want to live in this fantasy. Definitely going to vote for Insaf. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Great results? What are those great results? Any statistics (from reliable organization like UN) to support your arguments…sounds like a blunt supporter (Jiyala) of PML-N.Recommend

  • Falcon

    Great comment. I would like to add that if I remember it correctly, PTI is planning to increase number of schools for girls significantly (by about 1.5 to 2 times). Secondly, PTI has even stronger justification to do it because I believe that at one point, Asad Umar was also doing number crunching on it and was of the view that the highest priority project in Pakistan at this time should be women education (vs. metro projects and motorways) since that provides the highest level of return to the nation.Recommend

  • Waqar Abbasi

    Great work from Pakistan Khan.. Way to Go
    No force on the earth can stop winning PTI… I would request everyone to join this movement otherwise any regret will be in vain
    One thing I want to make clear everyone that no matter what PTI is winner.. But it will be you/me lucky if become part of this movement.

  • Falcon

    18th amendment has transferred too much control to provinces in some areas and education is one of them. Two changes are required: one devolving management to even deeper level (as pointed out by IK) and secondly, bringing back educational strategy to the national level with implementation responsibility at the provincial level. That way, we can ensure that not only we have a consistent education structure and focus across the country but also that budget earmarked for education is not squandered away at other low priority projects.Recommend

  • cautious

    Intention maybe good – but improving education takes both money and the guts to stand up to the religious extremist in Pakistan who don’t want women educated and have an aversion to science/basics that are necessary to achieve prosperity in this century. You don’t have the money – and IK is making an alliance with the very people who don’t want to educate women. Recommend

  • Breaking Bad

    11 people who so far voted against PTI plan kindly come forward and explain why you think it will be a failure?Recommend

  • Ali Asghar

    I am neutral . Now, i am with you till last drop of blood, till my last breath. To All, come forward for Pakistan . Save Pakistan.Recommend

  • Eeman Saleem.

    Leave the illiteracy. We want Australian PR.

    Regards, A Pakistani kangaroo.Recommend

  • Shams

    Islam started with “Iqra”. Why not start a Naya Pakistan with educational emergency. May Allah help you IKRecommend

  • Daas

    This is all very well but I really don’t get why Urdu or local languages should be the medium of instruction till grade 8 followed by a transition period of two years. Doesn’t this imply that after spending a lifetime learning (scientific) terminologies in local languages, the students will not actually apply them during their university and professional careers? If English is the medium that will eventually be used, why not use it in the first place? Recommend

  • Alishva

    OMG!! Imran khan…here..
    Im gonna faint… =)Recommend

  • Sarah

    Imran…I have got your tattoo on my right arm.! Godspeed! Take the political lead!
    we need you Imran. You have the trust of 18-Crore awaam of Karachi. :)Recommend