ISLAMABAD: At a time when more than 23 million children are out of school, the government spent only 1.7 per cent of GDP on education during the last year, while the literacy rate was recorded at a little over 62 per cent.

As per the Pakistan Economic Survey, which was released on Thursday, the literary rate was recorded at 62.8pc in the country, comprising 73.4pc males and 51.9pc females.

The survey said that cumulative education expenditures by federal and provincial governments in FY22 were estimated at 1.7pc of the GDP. “Expenditures on education-related activities during FY2022 witnessed an increase of 37.3 per cent, and reached Rs 1,101.7 billion from Rs 802.2 billion,” it said.

The survey stated that there are 32pc out-of-school children with more girls than boys deprived of education. It said that Balochistan has 47pc of out-of-school kids followed by Sindh at 44pc, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 32pc, and Punjab at 24pc.

Moreover, it said that efforts are being made to bring out-of-school children to schools and improve the quality of education. “The focus is being given on basic and college education to make the younger generation competitive from an early age. For a country like Pakistan, it becomes even more indispensable for its socio-economic development through an effective transition of its huge proportion of younger population... Transformation of 63 per cent youth into a real wealth requires optimum capitalisation through establishing a high-quality and market demand driven basic, secondary and higher education,” it said.

Progress on Education SDGs

The survey said that Pakistan is committed to achieving Goal 4 of SDGs pertaining to the quality of education, which stipulates equitable education, removal of discrimination, provision, and up-gradation of infrastructure, skill development for sustainable progress, universal literacy, numeracy and enhancement of the professional capacity of teachers. The progress achieved by Pakistan so far on Goal 4 is the completion of the rate of primary, lower and upper secondary education is 67pc, 47pc and 23pc, respectively.

During 2020-21, 7.1 thousand higher secondary schools with 158.4 thousand teachers were functional at the national level. The overall enrolment of students in higher secondary education witnessed an increase of 4.5pc in 2020-21. The enrolment registered during 2020-21 was 2.32 million as compared to 2.22 million in 2019-20. For 2021-22, it was estimated at 2.53 million.

Degree Colleges

An enrolment of 0.82 million students is expected during 2021-22 in degree colleges as against the enrolment of 0.76 million in 2020-21. A total of 3,000 degree colleges were established in 2020-21 with an estimated figure of 3,700 degree colleges for the year 2021-22. The teachers in degree colleges were 59.5 thousand in 2020-21 and estimated to the tune of 66.2 thousand in 2021-22.

Universities: There are 202 universities with 60.3 thousand teachers in both public and private sectors in 2020-21. The overall enrolment of students in higher education institutions (universities) was recorded at 1.86 million in 2020-21, the same as the previous year.

The enrolment is estimated to increase from 1.86 million in 2020-21 to 1.96 million (5.3pc) in 2021-22.

According to the survey, the projects and initiatives of the government were aimed at introducing a “uniform curriculum”, capacity building of teachers, establishment, renovation and up-gradation of schools and colleges, mainstreaming of religious education, skills development, and promoting awareness among various segments of society, especially targeting youth.

“Pakistan’s literacy, enrolment and other educational indicators are gradually improving…[but] an improvement in [the] education sector cannot be achieved without [the] active participation of all stakeholders, especially the private sector,” the survey said.

It said that given the limited resources and financial constraints, the due diligence given to the education sector was not up to par as it should be.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023

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