LAHORE: The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) of 2014 depicts a bleak picture of learning outcomes among the rural students of Pakistan as the percentage of Grade-5 students’ ability to read English sentences and Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto stories of Grade-2 level as well as doing two-digit division has gone down despite continuous hammering about the education emergency.
The countrywide survey states 58 per cent of the target-age Grade-5 children are unable to read Grade-2 level English sentences as compared to 57 per cent of showing poor results in 2013. The competency of reading Class-2 level stories in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto has further gone down as only 46 per cent could pass the test as compared to 50 per cent in 2013. So is the case with arithmetic learning levels, as this year (2014) 60 per cent of the children failed the test developed in line with the national curriculum as compared to 57 per cent in 2013.
The ASER household survey by the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi with partner organisations examined school education indicators as well as assessed learning levels of 195,723 children in 144 rural and 21 urban districts in the country. These 5-16 years age group children were tested in 93,093 households in 4,698 villages for English, language (Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto), and arithmetic competencies.
While Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan show depressing results, KP, Fata, AJK and GB show improvement
The education crisis shows worst manifestations, if the ASER survey data on Grade-III students’ competencies in reading Class-II level texts and doing two-digit division is to be considered. It says 84 per cent of the children cannot read story in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto in 2014 like previous year, while 86 per cent of them cannot read Class-II level sentences as compared to 85 per cent in the previous year. Up to 89 per cent of the children enrolled in Class-III could not do two-digit division in 2014 as compared to 88 per cent in 2013.
Educationists are calling for worthwhile interventions that should improve the quality of education being imparted to students in public and private schools as well as at other sources, including seminaries. They say the results also highlight the failure of the examination system in vogue.
The report highlights that Punjab this year has shown depressing results as compared to the last year, which question the efficacy of education emergency imposed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Based on the learning evaluation of 39,107 children falling in the 5-16 years age cohort, the survey reported that 43 per cent of Class-V children in Punjab could not read Class-II level sentences as compared to 38 per cent of the children failing the test. Similarly, some 37 per cent of the children could not read story in Urdu as compared to 34 per cent last year. The arithmetic learning levels have also declined among Class-V children in Punjab as 49 per cent could not do two-digit division as compared to 44 per cent of the children performing low last year.
Balochistan this year has shown more depressing results than last year, as the 67 per cent of the children could not read Urdu story as compared to 51 per cent of the children last year. The English reading competency test could not be qualified by 72 per cent of the children as compared to 71 per cent last year. The mathematics assessment test covering two-digit division questions put to Class-V students revealed that 76 per cent of the students could not solve them as compared to 61 per cent students last year.
While, the Sindh had shown worst performance as compared to all provinces in the country last year as per ASER survey report, it has shown strength and a slight improvement with 70 per cent of the children failing arithmetic test as compared to 71 per cent last year. The language competency in Urdu/Sindhi, the children’s results remained static with 59 per cent children failing the test this year as well as last year. However, the English sentences reading competency test could not be qualified by 76 per cent of the students as compared to 75 per cent last year. The overall performance recommends the Sindh has miles to go to offer quality education to its children.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have shown better results in the ASER survey as compared to their performance last year. FATA has shown far more encouraging results as 55 per cent children failed Urdu/Pashto reading test, 54 per cent failed English sentences reading and 52 per cent failed arithmetic questions as compared to 70 per cent, 72 per cent and 63 per cent students failing these tests.
ACCESS DENIED: The ASER survey shows 21 per cent of the children remained out of school in the country like last year. The bifurcation of out-of-school children percentage in rural and urban areas stand at 16.7 per cent and 6.3 per cent.
The worst case of out-of-school children was reported from Balochistan with 25.8 per cent children altogether not attending any school as compared to 23.1 per cent such children in Sindh, 13.3 per cent in FATA, 12.9 per cent in Punjab, 11.2 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11.1 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 7.5 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 5.2 per cent out-of-school children in Islamabad-ICT.
SCHOOL FACILITIES: The survey reports 41 per cent of surveyed government high schools had computer labs and 55 per cent had library books on their premises as compared to the surveyed private high schools where 36 per cent had computer labs and 51 per cent had library books.
As high as 49 per cent of the surveyed government primary schools were without toilets and 43 per cent were without drinking water. Similarly, 39 per cent of the surveyed government primary schools were without complete boundary walls and 68 per cent were without playgrounds.
Will the bleak figures send shock waves across the power corridors has yet to be seen.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2015