LAHORE: Federal and provincial governments’ efforts to increase enrollment in schools under Article 25-A of the Constitution have yet to target the 100 per cent of population as 15 per cent of Punjab’s children aged 6-16 are still out of school, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2015 Pakistan survey.

The remaining 85pc enrolled are not learning in schools as per desired standards.

The sixth ASER Survey report was launched in Lahore on Thursday.

Up to 2,200 volunteers visited 21,512 households in 1,079 villages/blocks to survey 59,179 children of age 3-16 years (of them 44pc were girls).

Learning competency far from desired standards

For the year 2015, the ASER rural survey was conducted in 36 rural districts and seven urban administrative areas in the Punjab, wherein 5-16 year age cohort 50,686 children were tested for English, language (Urdu), and arithmetic competencies.

The out-of-school children remained the same as compared to 2014. In 2015, 15pc of children were reported to be out-of-school, of them 8pc have never been enrolled and 7pc have dropped out of school. The number of children going to public schools this year has increased as compared to private schools. up to 65pc children of age 6-16 are enrolled in public schools in 2015 while last year the percentage was 63pc. According to the report, student competencies in learning English, arithmetic, and language have improved. In English, 60pc (57pc in 2014) of the surveyed class V students could read sentences, which should ideally be read by students from the second grade. A similar trend was observed in arithmetic capabilities of children where only 59pc (51pc in 2014) of class V children could do a two-digit division, something that is expected in second grade curriculum.

The survey found the children enrolled in private schools are performing better from those studying in government schools; up to 76pc of the class-V children in private schools could read a story in Urdu as compared to 67pc of their government schools counterparts. The difference of learning levels is starker for English, where 67pc of grade V could read the English text meant for class II level as compared to 57pc of the public students. For arithmetic, 64pc of the class V children in private school can do two-digit division as compared to 57pc of government schools’ children enrolled in class V.

Also, boys are outperforming girls in literacy and numeracy skills in rural Punjab as 56pc of the boys read sentences in Urdu as compared to 54pc of the girls. Up to 57pc of the boys and 55pc of the girls could read English words, while in arithmetic, 54pc of class V boys and 51pc of the girls were able to do class II subtraction.

The report also highlights school functioning. Teachers’ attendance in government schools was at 92pc as compared to 91pc in private schools. Private teachers have better qualifications; 37pc of private schools’ teachers are graduates in comparison to only 28pc of the government schools, but a larger percentage of public teachers have a higher qualification than private sector counterparts.

Multi-grade teaching trends are also mixed. The rural survey has found 39pc of government and 33pc of private schools imparting multi-grade teaching to class II. On the contrary, in class VIII, multi-grade teaching is more prevalent in the private sector.

Even though only 3pc of the private primary schools receive funds from the government (as compared to 69pc of public primary schools), the private sector provides better facilities. For example, 95pc of the private primary schools have boundary-walls as compared to 89pc of the government primary schools. Functional toilets are still not available in 6pc of public and 7pc of private primary schools in rural areas.

“Getting education doesn’t mean to go to schools alone, as the main thing is to see that what sorts of education is being imparted to our children,” Human Rights Commission of Pakistan secretary general IA Rehman said on the occasion.Punjab Standing Committee on Education chairman Qamarul Islam Raja said the provincial government had done a lot in improving attendance of teachers in schools that had resulted in improved enrollment and retention ratio of students. “We have ensured 92 per cent attendance in schools. And this has helped us in retaining children in schools,” he added.

The survey is managed by the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi with the National Commission for Human Development, the Democratic Commission for Human Development, the NRSP and the RCDO.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2016


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