As many as 58 per cent children in the country cannot read a sentence in Urdu or in their regional language. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: As many as 58 per cent children in the country cannot read a sentence in Urdu or in their regional language while 75 per cent are unable to read a sentence in English.

This was revealed in a survey report launched by South Asia Forum for Education Development managed by Idara Taleem-o-Aagahi in collaboration with the Foundation Open Society Institute, Department for International Development, National Commission for Human Development and Oxfam here on Thursday.

According to the report, the household survey that assessed learning outcomes of school-going (5-16 years) children in 85 districts (rural areas) across Pakistan found that majority of the children could not even read up to Class-II level text in Urdu, regional languages or English or do basic level of arithmetic.Only 41.8 per cent children, of those assessed, could read at least a sentence in Urdu or in their own regional languages while merely 25.8 per cent of them were able to read sentences in English.

Learning levels of the children in arithmetic were even more terrible as 40.1 per cent of them could do two-digit subtraction sums with carry while only 23.6 per cent could do three-digit division sums.

The survey was conducted in 28 districts of Punjab, Balochistan; 15 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 14 in Sindh, 17 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, four in Gilgit-Baltistan, three in Fata and two in Islamabad capital territory.

The report revealed that 57.3 per cent of 3-5 age group children were not enrolled for pre-schooling while 32.3 per cent of five years age children were out of school, posing a great challenge for the provincial governments that are struggling to achieve universal primary education.

School enrolment for children aged 6-16 years stood at 79.9 per cent - 36 per cent girls and 64 per cent boys - while the percentage for out-of-school children was 20.1. The dropout rate among these children was recorded at five per cent.

The report maintained that 15.1 per cent children had never been enrolled in any education facility. Among the out-of-school children, 52.7 per cent were girls.

According to the survey, around 74 per cent children were enrolled in government schools, 23.1 per cent in private schools and 2.9 per cent were in madressahs and non-formal education facilities in the country.

The survey of government and private primary schools showed that 55.4 per cent and 79.9 per cent schools, respectively, had useable water facility. It said toilets were available in 43 per cent public and 74.4 per cent private schools.

Federal Minister for Professional and Technical Training Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who was chief guest at the launch of the report, said Pakistan continued to perform extremely poorly in education and was seen to be off-track in terms of meeting the education targets set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA).

"According to Unesco, we have the largest number of out-of-school children in South Asia with the majority being girls." He said after the passage of 18th amendment and insertion of article 25-A in the constitution, education had become a fundamental right of all children aged 5-16.

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