DESPITE large-scale education sector reforms for decades, the status of education, unfortunately, continues to be on the downward trajectory. Now one gets numbed to look at statistic of various education assessment reports prepared by both public and private organisations.
For the first time, last year the Sindh government commissioned a study to assess learning performance of students studying in Class VI across 3,500 public schools involving more than 100,000 students.
The students were tested in the language (English, Urdu and Sindhi), science and mathematics. The test was designed and administered by the IBA, Sukkur.
The findings of the study confirm our apprehensions that public education in the province is on the verge of collapse. The overall results indicate a poor quality of education delivery at all levels.
A cumulative average score of 22 per cent was achieved in all three subjects, with 32 per cent in languages, 19 per cent in science and 15 per cent in mathematics in Sindh.
With regard to regional trends, the Karachi region leads with an overall cumulative average result of 32 per cent, followed by the Hyderabad region with 20 per cent, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur regions with 19 per cent each, and the Larkana region with the lowest average scoring of 15 per cent.
It is sad to observe the people’s sacrifices for and commitment to democracy not being translated into development in Larkana, which has the privilege of being the constituency of two former prime ministers and still the centre of the PPP.
The present senior Sindh minister of education also belongs to this area, and hopes are pinned on him. Ninety-five per cent teachers are professionally qualified in the province with a little impact on learning outcome of students.
Either teachers are not performing their duty well or they lack skills and competence to deliver services in an efficient manner.
Whatever may be the case, with this state of affairs students cannot meet their personal, social and economic welfare needs.
One wonders how the graduates of these public schools will find better place in the job market where there is cut-throat competition.
Isn’t it violation of their constitutional rights?
It seems we are fond of introducing laws such as Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, but never take its implementation stages seriously. The first law for compulsory education, popularly known as Patel Act, was passed by Mumbai Legislative Council in 1917 in British India and by 1930 all the legislative councils passed the same law.
The result? Half of school-age children are still out of schools and literacy rates hovers at 60 per cent – the actual rate is less than that.
So, I fear more of the same will continue if we don’t hold our rulers accountable for their performance as the Sindh education department spent more than Rs500 billion during the previous tenure.
Moreover, the education department must review its role whether it should continue to remain in education service delivery or change it to regularity one. At least let us debate on it.