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ISLAMAAD: Though successive governments have always claimed that education was among their priorities, a report showed a dismal picture of the sector.

The report launched by ASER, a non-governmental organisation, stated that 21 per cent children between the age of five and 16 years were out of school and 79 per cent of the enrolled students were not learning much.

The findings were based on a survey conducted by 10,000 volunteers arranged by Idara Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and other civil society organisations along with the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD).

During the survey, 249,832 children (41 per cent girls) in 138 districts were contacted.

The volunteers visited 81,672 households in 4,112 villages as well as 14,158 children (42 per cent girls) and 5,372 households in urban areas. The children were tested for English, languages (Urdu/Sindhi/Pushto) and arithmetic competencies.

The report stated that the private sector was performing better than the government sector as far as the learning levels of students and teacher attendance were concerned.

As many as 92 per cent students got easy access to schools in the urban areas compared to 78 per cent in the rural areas.

The student competency in learning English, arithmetic and languages were very poor.

Half of the children from Class-V cannot read Class-II level text in Urdu/Sindhi/ Pashto.

In English, only 43 per cent of the surveyed Class-V students could read sentences which should ideally be read by students from the second grade. Compared to the last year, the learning levels in English deteriorated by five per cent.

A similar trend was observed in the arithmetic capabilities of children where only 43 per cent of Class-V children were able to do a two-digit division, something that is expected in the second grade curriculum.

The survey added that children enrolled in private schools were performing better compared to those studying in the government schools; 61 per cent children enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto compared to 46 per cent Class-V students in the government schools.

About 63 per cent Grade-V students could read English Class II level sentences compared to only 38 per cent public sector students.

The survey said boys were outperforming girls in literacy and numeracy skills in rural Pakistan. As many as 46 per cent of boys were found able to read at least sentences in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto compared to 40 per cent girls.

Overall, teachers’ attendance in government schools stood at 87 per cent compared to 93 per cent in private schools. Private teachers were reported to have better qualifications.

Executive Director Center for Civic Education Zafarullah Khan told Dawn that quality had never been the concern of the successive governments.

“The education we are giving to our children is deplorable due to which they cannot compete in the international society. We don’t have quality teachers, quality books and a quality environment for students,” he said.