Fri. Jun 14th, 2024
Tayib Jan Co-founder & Managing Editor

Education is so closely associated with schooling that it is believed, if you are not in school, you are not learning and have no future. Research says learning happens everywhere and all the time. To address these contradictory notions, there are two fundamental questions, that need to be responded to. Firstly, are the children in schools learning, and secondly, does the children’s learning ensure their livelihood? From the ASER report 2019, we can conclude that each year children in Pakistan are learning too little and too slowly, and in 9 years of expected schooling, the children’s actual learning is of 4.8 years. Naqeebz conducted a survey (2018) to find the relationship between learning and livelihood of graduated students of Pakistani universities and their suitability to employment by the cooperate Pakistan. The report illustrated that about 78% of Pakistani employers are dissatisfied with University Graduates. It can thus be interpreted that our graduates lack the competencies of the current job market. 
As the employment chances are shutting down the window of opportunities, self – employment is opening up wider and wider each passing day. The ever-deteriorating socio-economic conditions of 24.3% of the population who live below the national poverty push more and more children each year to child labor and starting small businesses. A poor family keeps on spending on their children’s education for almost twenty years hoping that there will be a return once their children graduate from a university. Unfortunately, the majority of these graduates do not get jobs equivalent to their degrees. On the other hand, the graduates feel shame to start small businesses and are frustrated which ends up in suicides.
Some of out of school children who are grown up into adults are now running successful businesses and are a source of livelihood for others.  The achievement they got needs to be studied in-depth so that education could be fine-tuned. Here are two case studies that are inspiring which help in identifying gaps in the current education system.  These businesses are learning organizations for the illiterate and school dropout. By the way, they don’t employ university graduates, the reason will be discussed in some other article.

Mr. Latif Ahmed, a motor-cycle rikshaw showroom owner in Tando Allahyar

Mr. Latif Ahmed, known, 40 years, known as Shah Jee, owns a motor-cycle rikshaw showroom in Tando Allahyar and earns almost 200 k per month, and has four employees. At the age of thirteen, when his father died, he was in 7th grade, he started working on a lathe machine, along with his schooling.  However, he dropped off school in grade 10th when he could not perform well. He decided to concentrate on his skills which had become his passion. He had lost interest in schooling because he thought that education will not support him to make a better living. He had enough reading, writing, and arithmetic skills which he thought will help him in managing his business but he learned all the business traits from his Ustad (mentor). These skills include making motorcycle rickshaws, communicating with potential clients, growing business, etc. He has no regrets about dropping out of school rather he thinks the decision helped him to become what he is today. He proudly mentioned that he makes a decent living compared to his other classmates who have earned degrees.

Mr. Muhammad Faisal, owns one of the famous bakeries of Tando Allahyar

Mr. Muhammad Faisal, 32 years, owns one of the famous bakeries of Tando Allahyar. He is a grade 9th drop out. His father used to own a small bakery in the city, which he could not run properly so it was closed. The family could not support his education; hence, he was taken off school. In 2010, he started a new bakery of his own, and ten years down the line he is a successful businessman. He has employed 36 workers in his shop. He mentioned that he got all the ideas of the business from Social Media. The only problem he faces is, his English does not support him in getting other bright business ideas, and information about the ingredients of the bakery products from the net. He is happy with what he is doing and wishes if he could have learned more English in his schooling period.

Talking to different other school dropouts, I concluded that two prerequisites need to be addressed as time is winding up a) improve the quality of English and Mathematics in grades 1 to 8, and b) start a rigorous one- or two-years’ crash program, keeping a focus on English and Mathematics for the out of school children and adult. This will have a profound effect on their livelihood and making them capable to use the internet to grow their businesses and contribute to national progress. We need to remind ourselves that our universities produce 445,000 graduates annually, and most of them do not get jobs.  Unemployed university graduates are more threat to themselves and the societies they live, compared to semi-literate school dropouts with a good decent earing and living.  The state should provide backstopping to these individuals to thrive in their line of businesses. 

By Tayib Jan

The writer is an educationalist, working as the head of a private teacher training institute. He can be reached at

One thought on “Does Out of School Mean Out of Education?”
  1. I think such dropped out could catch crash programs related to skills development such as you have mentioned in this article at BBSYDP and/or programs launched by this government for the youth of Pakistan. These programs have varying lengths. The youth could possibly benefit from these programs.
    I also agree with you that fresh graduates feel shame or down to get into small businesses when they spent years in studies for return. However, better to kick off business than wasting time.

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