ISLAMABAD: In rural districts of the country, 48pc of surveyed fifth graders in public and private schools cannot read a sentence in English and 44pc cannot read a story in Urdu, Sindhi or Pashto.
This was revealed at the release of the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) by a private NGO, Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) launched on Tuesday.
The formal launch was conducted by Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood.
The 229-page report was prepared in collaboration with the Department for International Development, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and other partners. According to ITA, it is based on a survey of 154 districts in 4,527 villages, 89,966 households and 260,069 children between the ages of three and 16.
According to Aser 2018, improvement was recorded in the education sector last year but a lot more still needs to be done. It said 47pc of surveyed fifth graders could not do two-digit division.
New survey says 44pc of fifth graders cannot read a story in Urdu, Sindhi or Pashto, 47pc cannot do two-digit division
ITA Chief Operating Officer Baela Raza Jamil shared the findings of the reports with the audience. She said Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan had made progress.
The report points out poor standards of education but when compared to the report for 2016-17, it also points to promising trends in terms of access and quality such as 83pc of children between the ages of six and 16 are enrolled in schools compared to 81pc in 2016.
It says 19pc of children were out of school in 2016 and that this number had decreased to 17pc in 2018.
The report says that 83pc of all children of school going age, six to 16 years, were enrolled in school of whom 77pc go to government schools and 23pc go to private schools- 20pc in formal education and 3pc in madressahs.
It says 37pc of children aged between three and five are enrolled in schools compared to 36pc in 2016.
The report says Azad Jammu and Kashmir is at the top with a 95pc enrolment rate for children between the ages of six and 16 followed by GB and Islamabad with an enrolment rate of 91pc each.
In Punjab, 89pc students are enrolled in schools, 86pc in Sindh, 87pc in KP, 28pc in Balochistan and 72pc in tribal areas.
The report says 32pc of government schools and 11pc of private schools do not have useable water facilities and that 42pc of government schools do not have toilet facilities.
It says 13pc of surveyed private schools also do not have toilet facilities.
It points out that 30pc of public schools and 20pc private schools do not have boundary walls.
Aser 2018 says 88pc of teachers were present in public schools on the day of the survey and the same percentage was present in private schools as well.
Only 28pc of government schools have computer labs and 22pc have smart boards.
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood said the government has been taking various steps to bring visible improvement in the education sector, such as launching a uniform education system in the country.
The minister said a uniform curriculum and education system is imperative for providing equal opportunities to all students.
He said some elite schools are putting up a little resistance but the education ministry is optimistic it will manage to bring all stakeholders on board for launching a uniform education system.
He said a drive has been started in Islamabad for bringing out of school children into schools and that the initiative will soon be replicated in the provinces as well.
GB Education Minister Ibrahim Sanai, PML-N MNA Mehnaz Akber Aziz and others also spoke on the occasion.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019