ISLAMABAD: Despite a renewed focus on education in recent years by the provincial and federal governments, there still appear to be major gaps as far as quality of education is concerned, as a new survey paints a gloomy picture of education standards in schools across the country.
The Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) 2016, was launched by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) on Tuesday revealed that 48pc Class 5 students surveyed in government and private schools in rural districts of the country could not read a story in Urdu.
Further, 54pc of the surveyed students could not read a sentence in English, 52pc could not perform a two-digit division in arithmetic, while 19pc of children between 6 and 16 years old are still out of school.
Similarly, there is no significant improvement in the provision of missing facilities to schools. Pakistan is the second country in the world, after Nigeria, which has over 22 million out-of-school children. There has also been no serious progress at the government level to address the issue.
Half of schools surveyed in capital for Aser 2016 report didn’t have water facilities, boundary walls
The report further said that despite a recent focus from the federal and provincial governments on enrolment drives to honour Article 25-A of the Constitution, 19pc of children aged 6-16 still remain out-of-school, while the remaining 81pc that are enrolled are not learning much.
It said that the proportion of out-of-school children is still the same as compared to 2015; last year 19pc were reported to be out-of-school.
The survey, whose sample includes 5,540 schools in 144 rural districts, illustrates the poor standards of education by saying that only 43pc of boys between 5-16 could read at least sentences in Urdu, Sindhi and Pashto, while 36pc of girls could read the same sentence in these languages.
In contrast, 40pc of the boys and 33pc of the girls could read words in English and 44pc boys and 36pc girls were able to perform a subtraction sum in arithmetic.
The report also said that 48pc students could not read a story in Sindhi and Pashto.
As per the survey of the capital’s schools, only 13 private and seven government schools in rural Islamabad were surveyed, half of which didn’t have boundary walls and an equal number didn’t have usable water. The report also pointed out that over a quarter of schools surveyed in the capital didn’t have usable toilets for students.
Speaking at the launch, Nargis Sultana of the Open Society Foundation that there was a need to hold the government accountable for not focusing on the education sector. “Education should not just be amongst the priorities of the government, it should be the top priority,” she said.
The report said that out of total surveyed government schools, 13pc of teachers were absent on the day of survey, while 17pc students were absent.
Highlighting missing facilities, the report said that 40pc of the schools surveyed don’t have useable water, while 46pc don’t have a toilet for students, while 35pc of schools didn’t have boundary walls either.
The report also highlights that as per past trends, children enrolled in private schools are performing better compared to those studying in government schools.
Speaking on the occasion, Rafiq Tahir, joint education adviser at the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, said that the government owned the survey, which would be helpful for better policy-making.
Education campaigner Mosharraf Zaidi was of the opinion that due to the pressure exerted by civil society and NGOs, the government has started to take steps to improve the education sector, but there was much left to be desired.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2017