Education (sub)standards: Nearly half of 5th graders can't read 2nd grade English, report finds

Updated February 10, 2020

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Students enrolled in private-sector schools show better learning outcomes, ASER report says. — AFP/File
Students enrolled in private-sector schools show better learning outcomes, ASER report says. — AFP/File

About 45 per cent of children studying in the fifth standard in rural areas cannot read English sentences meant for students of Class II, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) revealed on Monday.

The report was launched by Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and Planning Ministry's Deputy Chairman Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan at a ceremony in Islamabad.

ASER records data from rural and urban households on learning and other critical indicators alongside schools producing internationally comparable data on the acquisition of foundational lower primary skills, holding national and global-level institutions accountable for delivering on the sustainable development goals level 4 promises.

In its report for the year 2019 released today, ASER further found that only 59pc of fifth grade students in rural areas can read stories in Urdu and other local languages including Sindhi and Pashto, which are included in the syllabus of the second standard. Furthermore, only 57pc of grade five students can solve a two-digit division problem meant for pupils in Class II.

The report further said that 60pc of the students in the fifth standard can tell time correctly and solve addition word problems. Only 53pc can solve multiplication word problems.

Students enrolled in private-sector schools show better learning outcomes, the report said, adding that male students tend to outperform females.

The statistics gathered from surveys held in urban areas are considerably better than those of rural areas. According to Aser, 70pc of fifth grade students in urban areas can read a story in Urdu and/or other local languages meant for second grade students. About 67pc of fifth standard students can read English sentences, while 66pc can solve division problems which are included in the syllabus for Class II.

The figures, according to the report, show an improvement in learning skills of fifth class students from 13pc to 17pc between 2014 and 2019.

Enrollment of students between the ages of six to 16, in government or public sector schools in 2019 has increased to 77pc, in comparison to 70pc in 2014, marking a decline in the number of students being enrolled in private sector schools. The report advises that "this edge must be maintained with persistent state actions for quality facilities". The figures, however, do not indicate if there has been an increase or decrease in the number of students enrolled every year.

No improvement was recorded in Early Childhood Education, as enrollment rate remains 39pc since 2014.

Teachers' qualification

According to the report, the percentage of teachers with a graduate degree in private sector schools was 40pc as compared to 33pc in government or public sector schools. The number of teachers with a Masters degree was higher in government schools, the report said, but did not mention statistics.

The attendance of teachers in both private and public sector schools stood at 89pc.

School facilities

Not surprisingly, it was revealed that private sector schools were better equipped and provided more facilities than government or public sector institutions.

Around 87pc of private sector schools for primary students have a boundary wall, compared to 75pc of government schools, the report said.

A huge gap was found in the number of schools that had functional toilets: 89pc of private sector schools had functioning bathrooms as compared to 59pc of government schools.

"The government must make missing facilities an integral part of school-based budgets rather than as a separate budget head," the report suggested.