ISLAMABAD: The second annual education rankings of 146 districts in the country show that Islamabad Capital Territory is the best performing region in terms of overall standards of education, followed by Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

According the report, unveiled on Thursday by Alif Ailaan, in terms of primary schools, the top-scoring districts are mostly from Punjab (see table 1). In contrast, the top scoring areas in terms of middle school performance were nearly all districts from Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK (see table 2).

In the provincial scores, Sindh had improved its ranking while Khyber Paktunkhwa had slipped a few places. Fata, unfortunately, remains at the bottom of the list.

Under the ranking system, each province, territory, district and agency is scored on a scale of 0 to 100. According to Alif Ailaan, data is collated from various official sources on enrolment, literacy, learning outcomes, gender ratios and survival rates. On this index, Islamabad scored 83.75 points and stood first, Lahore remained at sixth with 82.58 points, Quetta at 31st with 70.99 points, Karachi at 40th with 68.51 points and Peshawar bagged the 68th position by obtaining 61.04 points.

The points were awarded to each district on the basis of enrolments in schools, literacy, learning outcomes, survival rate of students, gender parity, infrastructure and availability of facilities.

The report showed that Punjab was far ahead of the other provinces with 14 of its districts in the top 20. However, the report warned that Punjab had still to go a long way to achieve the 100 per cent enrolment target.

Like last year, Sindh, Balochistan and Fata occupied the bottom of the ranking with Sindh making its first appearance at number 40 with Karachi. This demonstrates a lack of commitment to follow up on the promises made by the provincial government, said the report.

The report also showed that 47 per cent children (25 million) in Pakistan were out of school. Most of the out-of-school children (68 per cent) had never been to school and 32 per cent dropped out.

KP remained the second worst performing province. This was because of gender disparities and poor learning outcomes in the province, followed by Balochistan which is at the bottom of the ranking with 1.76 million children out of school.

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the district of Poonch has fallen from its top spot last year to 9th position in 2014. AJK has shown an overall decline from second position last year to the third position.

PML-F Member Provincial Assembly from Sindh Mehtab Rashidi said time had come to stop playing politics with education.

“In rural areas, we do not have water and toilets in schools. The financial year is about to end but Sindh has not been able to spend half of its education budget,” she said.

Speaking on the occasion, former MNA Bushra Gohar of the ANP said though education should be priority but politicians do not give it any attention.

“In KP, schools are being destroyed by Taliban but no one is bothered about the situation. It is strange that we allocate available funds for the armed forces and expect that donors will work for the promotion of education,” she said.

Senator Abdul Rauf Lala from the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party said the federal government should accept responsibility for ignoring the province for over 65 years.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the government needed to run schools in a better way. “The truth is that even our best districts are far from being the ideal.”

In a video comment, Balochistan’s health minister Rehmat Ali Baloch said: “I am deeply saddened to see my district at number 138.”

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2014

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