Can education accessibility in rural areas be improved?

Malcolm X, when talking about education, mentioned it is the passport to the future, “for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” It is one of the most important indicators for a country’s development because it shapes individuals to have a certain onset towards life and is the primary motivation of bringing about any sort of change a person, location or society needs. Yet, education in Pakistan is well below the expected standards.

Even after years of investments, reforms and promises, the education sector remains weak in the country and is not seen to improve in the near future. Increases in annual provincial budgets have occurred, but enrollment in schools remains low, quality of learning is poor, and there are not sufficient facilities, resources, or teachers to run a fully-functional school in the public sector. 

Currently Pakistan has the second highest number of students out of school in the world. The lack of funding and resource allocation towards education (at just 2.8 percent of the GDP) has led to 22.8 million children in the 5–16 age groups being out of school. Some of the reasons children drop out or don’t go to school in the first place include the families’ needs to keep children at home to help with farm work and other income-generating activities, and the inability to pay the expenses related to education

While more than 32 percent of primary age girls are out of school, the effect of the lack of educational resources worsens the gender disparity in rural areas. In some rural areas of Pakistan, illiteracy rates amongst women remain at 90 percent, with some villages situated over 150 km from the nearest school.

The data generated by Pakistan Education Services (PES) shows that approximately 9 percent of schools do not have a building available. This implies that 9 out of 100 schools are held out in the open, putting students’ health at risk. Furthermore, even for schools that have buildings, a large number of them are in disrepair. Further, only 58 percent  of schools have access to electricity, and approximately 68 percent have access to drinking water (PES 2015–16).

Our solution to the lack of infrastructure is using Modular Housing technology to create schools. Such technologies are not necessarily mobile homes or recreational vehicles – they are houses or structures built off-site in a factory and then transported to the desired location. They can be used for a number of reasons, one of them being potential school structures for the rural areas of Pakistan. 

Modulus Housing units can be customized to create educational units or schools, providing a cheap and quick opportunity to increase educational access in the rural areas. The product is not just more portable and transport friendly allowing easier access to inaccessible areas, but it is also more cost friendly for the educational budget that is under-funded during current global pressures. Modulus housing provides a solution to maximize utility from the available resources and help provide education for a brighter future for Pakistan tomorrow.

Prefabricated or “Modular” houses are constructed in a factory before shipping and assembled on site. Compared to traditional house construction, the assembling requires less space and is completed much faster (can be done in 3 hours or less). That is why you now see stunning state-of-the-art houses in the woods where it is deemed as a normally difficult environment for house construction, or jaw-dropping structures completed in less time than traditional structures around the world.

The structures are quick to assemble and are cost-efficient. They are built to last and leave a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional housing. Off-site construction also means fewer builders are required, which solves another problem facing the industry — a shortage of skilled workers. Most important of all, they are both affordable and relocatable. These structures can also be extended and used for different purposes during summer vacations.

One of these purposes can be tourist housing in the mountainous areas of Pakistan that tourists dream of visiting, but are unable to due to the lack of facilities. This way, advantageously, one modular house would serve two purposes – schools for children during the academic year and tourist houses during the summer or winter season to attract travellers. Thus, a simple innovation can bolster two extremely different and diverse industries, benefiting a large number of individuals. 

With Abstract Hub and Modulus Home, schools can be built in remote areas at lower prices that are repurpose-able and are able to last for a long time. The structures would take away a significant cost from educational ministries and motivate them to provide basic facilities for a school to be up and running. By providing these school buildings to underdeveloped communities, we can join hands to take a step closer to a more educated Pakistan and increase our chances for prosperity as a nation.