PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported high school dropout rate despite massive education spending in the last some years.

The government has pumped a whopping amount of Rs130 billion into the province’s education sector during the last six years.

Also, the district governments have released billions of rupees to the government schools from own budgets in the last three years for ensuring basic facilities on campus.

Teachers blame situation on poverty, joblessness of educated youth

The 2017-18 annual statistical report of the education department prepared two months ago shows that the school dropout rate is 44 and 40 per cent at primary and secondary levels, respectively.

According to the report, 685,000 students got admission to preparatory classes in 2012-13 but the schools had 369,163 students after six years in 2017-18 as 315,837 dropped out.

The dropout rate at secondary schools stood at 40 per cent as 298, 000 students were enrolled in sixth grade in 2013-14. However, the students reaching 10th grade after five years in 2017-18 totaled 169, 782 after the dropout of 128, 218.

A survey of the education department released in May 2018 blamed alarming school dropout rate on poverty, lack of interest and absence of schools.

The officials told Dawn that of the Rs130 billion budget being spent on the development side of the education department, Rs100 billion was allocated as part of the annual development programme in the provincial budget during the last six years.

They said of the total development outlay, the education department used Rs14.366 billion in 2012-13, Rs20.263 billion in 2013-14, Rs19.926 billion in 2014-15, Rs11.4 billion in 2015-16, Rs18.185 billion in 2016-17 and Rs15.182 billion in 2017-18.

The officials said the funds in question were mainly spent for putting up buildings for new schools and upgrading existing ones, providing free textbooks to students (Rs10 billion), purchasing furniture (Rs7 billion), offering stipend to girl students (Rs5 billion), establishing IT labs (Rs3.5 billion), standardising higher secondary schools (Rs4 billion), training teachers (Rs2 billion), paying hard areas allowance to teachers, establishing community girls schools, and monitoring schools.

They said Rs30 billion was spent on non-ADP schemes meant for provision of basic facilities in government schools including supply of electricity and drinking water and construction of boundary walls and washrooms.

The officials said every district government allocated 20 per cent of its ADP funds for the respective government schools in line with the guidelines of the planning and development department.

They said the education department had no data of how much funds had been spent so far by the districts on public sector schools.

Headmaster of a government high school told Dawn that poverty and joblessness of educated youths were the main reasons for high dropout rate in government schools.

He said a few days ago, three of his students stopped coming to school and he learned on inquiry that they had begun working as child labours as their fathers were unable to earn livelihood for family.

“Parents think when a person with the master’s degree can’t find job, then they send their children to workshops to earn money for family and learn skills to establish own workshops in future,” he said.

A district education officer linked the high dropout rate with poverty, non-conducive environment in classrooms and the teachers’ inability to teach English books.

He said instead of 40 students as set in rules, there were over 100 students in every classroom of a government school.

The DEO wondered what the learning environment would be inside a packed classroom.

When contacted, adviser to chief minister on elementary and secondary education department Ziaullah Bangash that the last PTI government had spent huge funds for putting up school buildings and provision of basic facilities to them.

“This time around, we (PTI government) will focus on improving quality of education in government schools,” he said.

The adviser also said utmost efforts would be made to enrol out-of-schools children.

He declared overcrowded classrooms in government schools a big issue and said new schools would be established in rented buildings adjacent to overcrowded schools.

“The establishment of 500 schools in rented buildings has been proposed in the next budget,” he said.

The adviser said second shifts would soon be launched in government schools to lessen burden on morning shifts.

To a question regarding the teachers’ inability to teach textbooks, whose medium was changed from Urdu to English, he said discussion was underway at the education department to hold test for teachers about the relevant books after two or three months.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2018