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March 6, 2021

Regressing further

Editorial

 
March 6, 2021

Regressive values appear to have seeped so deep in our society that even a set of statues of a father introducing his daughter to books becomes a victim of vandalism. Some ‘unidentified people’ vandalized these statues near Daska’s city college in Punjab. According to reports, a local philanthropist with the permission of local administration had sponsored a set of statues near the degree college of Daska a couple of months ago. The statues were a good example of how our elders should encourage children, especially girls, to seek knowledge. The books in the combo presented them as an ideal source of knowledge for children. Apparently, some conservative segments of the locality had reservations over the display of the statues and had informally expressed their displeasure at this innocuous message for learning and reading. Ultimately, they showed their anger by vandalizing the statues.

Education in this country has hardly been a priority of our rulers and we have not been able to achieve any substantial progress to achieve even universal primary education. With a mere 60 percent literacy rate in the country, we desperately need encouragement for our children to go to school and to develop a love for reading. That a private philanthropist had funded the statues itself is something that all local people should have appreciated and even other cities should have replicated the idea. After this vandalism, it is unlikely that any other city administration or philanthropist would dare show such initiative. We are dismally low in the ranking on the Human Development Index of the UN, and especially in women’s education. We need role models and clear messages to promote education and literacy in the country and if we keep destroying such messages we may not be able to achieve universal literacy in another century.

Promoting women’s education should be our priority now and we cannot afford to overlook such vandalism that targets even statues of girls in this manner. We have seen Malala being shot in this country and have witnessed the APS tragedy unfold in front of our eyes. All this points to a not gradual but rapid decline into a high level of intolerance in our society against education, and increasing misogyny that appears to be unstoppable. These are the upshots of continuous neglect of education – especially enlightening education – by our decision-makers. This deliberate or not so deliberate oversight must stop now. Our decline into an abyss of intolerance must be checked immediately.