ISLAMABAD: The Economic Survey of Pakistan 2021-22 has pointed out that only 1.77 per cent of GDP was spent on the education sector last year while the literacy rate was recorded at 63pc.

“Cumulative education expenditures by federal and provincial governments in FY2021 remained at 1.77pc of GDP (revised estimates). Education-related expenditures during FY21 witnessed an increase of 9.7pc, reaching Rs988 billion from Rs901bn,” the survey noted.

While highlighting the literacy rate, the survey said that during 2021-22, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement survey was not conducted due to the upcoming Population and Housing Census 2022.

Therefore, the survey stated that figures for the latest available survey regarding Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) and Net Enrolment Rate (NER) may be considered for the analysis.

“However, according to the Labour Force Survey 2020-21, literacy rate trends show 62.8pc in 2020-21 (as compared to 62.4pc in 2018-19), more in males (from 73.0pc to 73.4pc) than females (from 51.5pc to 51.9pc),” read the survey.

Economic Survey shows literacy rate at around 63pc

Literacy rates increased in both rural (53.7pc to 54.0pc) and urban areas (76.1pc to 77.3pc). According to the survey report, the gender gap appears to be closing over time. “Literacy rate went up in all provinces, Punjab (66.1pc to 66.3pc), Sindh (61.6pc to 61.8pc), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (52.4pc to 55.1pc) and Balochistan (53.9pc to 54.5pc),” read the survey.

Development works

The survey said that for FY 2022 an amount of Rs9.7 billion was allocated in PSDP FY2022 for 24 on-going and four new development projects of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. An amount of Rs2.8 billion was also allocated for six on-going and three new education related development projects sponsored by the Finance, Defence, Housing & Works, and Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan divisions.

It said that various initiatives have been taken at federal and provincial levels to raise the standards of education in terms of quality education as part of our commitment to accomplish Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The survey also highlighted that a Single National Curriculum (SNC) has been introduced to minimise disparities in the country’s education.

It said that SNC’s implementation has already started in Islamabad, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan from academic year 2021. In Balochistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir, implementation will start in the academic year 2022. The survey said that Sindh was an active part of the development of the SNC. However, for implementation, discussions are going on with the Sindh government, the survey claimed. It is relevant to note here that Sindh has rejected the adoption of SNC.

While highlighting challenges, the survey said that while SNC is a major reform in the country, there are a few challenges in order to implement it in true letter and spirit. These challenges included capacity building of the existing teachers; induction of new teachers as per the requirements; and uplifting of the educational facilities in the far-flung areas of Pakistan.

“Pakistan’s literacy, enrolment, and other educational indicators have been improving over the last couple of years. The government is very much focusing on improving both the quality and coverage of education through effective policy interventions and enhancing allocation of resources, but the required reforms and improvements in the education sector cannot be achieved without the active participation of the private sector,” the economic survey concluded.

Published in Dawn,June 10th, 2022

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