ISLAMABAD: A new report on education demanded the government to implement Article 25 of the Constitution to provide equal learning opportunities to all children.

Aser National Report 2023 on private organisations, which was launched on Friday at the Planning Commission of Pakistan, also sought enforcement of sustainable development goals.

The report was officially unveiled coinciding with International Women’s Day in the presence of a galaxy of senior educationists, distinguished panelists, government officials and civil society representatives.

“Article 25-A must be implemented in letter and spirit to the fullest by the incoming governments where all children between the ages of five and 16 years are entitled to a fundamental right of education inclusively with access and quality with equity,” the report said.

Aser report says percentage of out-of-school girls higher than boys

Despite 13 years since Article 25-A was introduced, our progress has been painfully slow, the report said, adding that at present, children from the poorest household mostly remain excluded compared to their richer counterparts. “Girls fare even poorer both within/intra and across households, and with disability the marginalisation is even more,” it said.

According to the report, “this is the state responsibility to ensure that a child born in Pakistan irrespective of their parental income, geography, gender or any other variable has the right to education. Only this hardcore approach will lead to the achievement of the constitutional right to education.”

The report said a higher percentage of girls (around 8pc) were still out of schools compared to boys (6pc).

According to the organiser, former education minister Rana Tanveer Hussain also attended the launching ceremony. It said province-wise results showed that gender gap in the percentage of out-of-school children (OOSC) aged 6-16 years was more pronounced in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Although the gender gap in the share of OOSC has narrowed over time, a significant percentage (14pc) of both girls and boys (aged 6-16) in rural areas still remain outside the education system. The gender gaps in learning have narrowed from 2012, 2014 to 2023, including pandemic/flood years (2020-2023), in literacy (at least sentences) and numeracy (subtraction).

It said more than 200,000 children in the age bracket of five to 16 years were assessed on a foundational learning or grade two tool in Urdu, Arithmetic and English.

The report said despite adverse shocks to the education system, such as Covid-19 and disastrous floods, the Aser rural results for 2023 indicate an improvement in enrollment of children aged 3-5 years (42pc in 2023) and 6-16 years (88pc).

The report reveals an overall dip in learning trends from 2021 to 2023 for grade 5 students in Urdu (54.9pc to 50pc) and Arithmetic (51.4pc to 46.3pc).

It revealed a remarkable education success story in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), saying that despite national challenges, the region showed significant advancements.

Grade 5 students in GB surpassed the national average in both Urdu and English proficiency, with Urdu competency rising from 52pc in 2021 to 60pc in 2023 and English proficiency climbing from 60pc to 66pc during the same period.

On the other hand, at the national level, Urdu proficiency decreased from 54pc to 50pc and English proficiency dipped from 56pc to 54pc. Moreover, Gilgit-Baltistan achieved an outstanding 94pc enrollment rate, the highest across the country next to Azad Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2024

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