LAHORE: Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas says the government will open 100 new schools in rented buildings in Lahore with the cost of Rs210m. He says schools are being established in those areas where there is no facility and adding the last school in Lahore was opened in 2005.

He was addressing the audience on the launch of Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by the Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), a non-government organisation, Tuesday.

Standing Committee on Education Chairperson Ayesha Nawaz, UNICEF’s specialist Rubina Nadeem, MPA Uzma Kardar, Quaid-i-Azam Academy Director General Amtul Qadoos, Additional Secretary Literacy Bashir Ahmed Goraya and others participated in the event.

Mr Raas said there was need to change the education system but it required huge funds, adding that was easy to highlight problems but difficult to find solutions. He said the PTI government had identified solutions to the problems and the process of their implementation was going on.

Minister says no govt school opened up in Lahore since 2005

He said change in the textbook curriculum only would not resolve issues but it was necessary to train teachers. “If a teacher is not qualified and competent, the books were of no use.”

He said government had abolished examinations of 5th and 8th classes under the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) to save the children from extra burden.

According to a report, 48pc of children aged between three to five and 9pc aged between six to 16 years were out of school in Punjab.

In contrast, the survey in seven urban centers across Punjab revealed that only 3pc children were out of school, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019 Punjab (rural) survey.

ASER Punjab rural results over the years highlight a decline in the number of children going to private sector schools; 28pc children of 6-16 age group are enrolled in private sector in 2019, compared to 37pc in 2014. The shift to government/public sector schools has increased the enrolment share from 63pc (2014) to 72pc in 2019.

According to the rural report, student competencies in learning languages and Arithmetic have improved: 75pc of the children from Class-V read Class-II level can read story in Urdu; 71pc of the surveyed Class-V students could read English sentences meant for students at second grade.

Arithmetic learning levels have also improved since 2018; now 82% of Class-V children could do a two-digit division, pegged at second grade curriculum. Overall, 85pc of the children enrolled in Class-V in all urban districts surveyed in Punjab can read a story in the local language, 84pc can read sentences in English while 78pc can do division.

Highlighting school functioning in Punjab, teachers’ attendance in public schools was reported 89pc while in private it was 90pc on the day of the survey. Private schoolteachers were reported to have better qualifications at graduate levels, 40pc, compared to 26pc in government schools; however, for MA/MSC qualifications of public primary schoolteachers, 62pc were reported to be higher than private sector teachers which stood at 28pc.

Better school facilities in public sector: 97pc government primary schools had boundary-walls as compared to 93pc private primary schools; for functional toilets, the facility was available in 94pc public and 89pc private primary schools; safe and conducive environments do affect learning positively across public and private schools.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2020

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