KOHAT: Adviser to the chief minister on education Ziaullah Bangash and state minister for interior Shehryar Afridi have failed to implement a four-year programme signed with the Alif Ailaan, a project of Department of Foreign and International Development, to introduce free transportation for girls students, construct required number of middle schools and improve quality of education in the government schools across the Kohat district.
The project’s former area manager, Asim Khursheed, when contacted, told Dawn that their job was to sensitise the education department and the lawmakers to the falling education standard. He regretted that both the lawmakers had promised to implement the charter, but the result had been very disappointing.
He said the only way left for them after spending millions of rupees on surveys and publications was just to remind the lawmakers of their commitment from time to time because the projects had ended without achieving any results.
Mr Khursheed recalled that the lawmakers had promised that in case they won the election again they would use the charter to carry out education reforms in their respective constituencies on a priority basis, but to no avail.
About the current situation of education in Kohat, he said the analysis carried out by the NGO had revealed that availability of schools beyond primary, quality of education, and gender disparity were the three most important factors contributing to failing education standards.
He said for every eight primary schools, there was only one middle school. Lack of schools beyond primary level explains why there is a drop in enrolment rate as we move up the higher classes, he added.
Mr Khursheed said enrolment numbers also suggest that there were fewer girls enrolled in the district compared to boys. Sixty-one per cent of students enrolled were boys while only 39 per cent of them were girls. Literacy rate of 10 years and among older girls stood at only 33 per cent, whereas for boys of the same age group it was 74 per cent, he explained.
According to Annual Status of Education Report 2016, 69 per cent of class five students could not read a story in Urdu/Pashto meant for class two; 66 per cent of class five students could not read a sentence in English meant for class two and 60 per cent of class five students could not do a two-digit division meant for class two, the NGO official maintained.
Shortage of subject specialists also contributed to the decline in learning levels, he said, adding at present there were several vacant posts of subject specialists and senior subject specialists.
This correspondent tried to contact both the lawmakers to know their viewpoint on the matter, but they did not respond.
Meanwhile, Engr Syed Qalbe Hasan, the two-time minister who failed to win the 2018 elections, has vowed to focus on increasing classrooms in schools to fix the space issue and support girls’ education that has long been ignored in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019