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Report exposes dismal rural education

February 01, 2012

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LAHORE, Feb 1: A survey of students’ learning outcomes in Urdu, English and arithmetic on provinces level shows serious problems in the governments’ approach towards achieving literacy targets, while it highlights the fact that students in Sindh villages are lagging far behind students in the rural districts of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Pakistan 2011 household survey was conducted by the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) managed by Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), Department for International Development (DFID), National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and Oxfam/Novib. Dawn had shared some of the findings of the survey in a report published last week.

The survey was conducted in 85 districts -- 28 districts in Punjab, Balochistan (15), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (14), Sindh (17), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (04), Gilgit-Baltistan (03), FATA (02) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The survey has also assessed children in urban parts of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.

The national survey report was conducted by volunteer surveyors in 48,646 households in 2,502 villages. They collected detailed information on 3-16 years age group 143,826 children (59% male and 41% female). Children in the 5-16 age group were tested for language and arithmetic competencies, covering Class-II and III level national curricula. The survey also collected information on 3,466 schools -- 2,376 public schools and 1,090 private schools.

The survey of students’ learning outcome exposed that almost 81.2 per cent Class-V students of those assessed in Sindh could not even read Class-II level sentences in English language, while 59.5 per cent children could read story text in Urdu/Sindhi and 76.2 per cent Class-V could not do division sums.

An examination of class-III students in Sindh showed that 74.7 per cent could not read English language words (Class-II level text), 62.7 per cent children could not read Urdu/Sindhi language sentences, while 75.3 per cent could not solve subtraction sums.

In Punjab, the assessment of Class-V students divulged that 50.2 per cent children could read English language sentences, while this ratio was 38.5 per cent in Balochistan; 35.6 per cent in KP; 60.5 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 59.5 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 56.8 per cent in ICT, and 33.5 per cent in FATA.

The Urdu sentences reading test was qualified by as much as 60.5 per cent students in Punjab, 41.7 per cent in Balochistan; 31.5 per cent in KP; 60.7 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 57.7 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 55.1 per cent in ICT, and 34.1 per cent in FATA.

The Class-III level division sums were solved by 46.2 per cent Class-V students in Punjab, 38.4 per cent in Balochistan; 29.3 per cent in KP; 50.4 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 44.2 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 49 per cent in ICT, and 28.2 per cent in FATA.

The Class-II level English language words and Urdu sentences reading test given to Class-III students suggested that 57.5 per cent and 53 per cent students in Punjab qualified, respectively.

These pass per cent ratios in Balochistan stood at 36.7 per cent and 31.8 per cent; 46.4 per cent and 31.2 per cent in KP; 65 per cent and 49.4 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan; 61.5 and 54.5 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir; 60.3 per cent and 44.9 per cent in ICT; and 46.4 per cent and 28.7 per cent in FATA, respectively.

The Class-III level subtraction sums given to Class-III students were correctly solved by 45.2 per cent students in Punjab, 36.2 per cent in KP; 52 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 50 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 44.1 per cent in ICT, and 35.9 per cent in FATA.

ACCESS: With regard to access of children to educational facilities, the survey reveals that Sindh (17 districts’ rural parts) was also lagging far behind as 29.5 per cent of those 6-16 years age group children assessed have been found out-of-school as compared to 23.5 per cent in Balochistan, 22.6 per cent in Gilgit-Baltistan, 16.1 per cent in Punjab, 14.5 in KP, 10.3 per cent in AJK and 3.9 per cent in ICT.

The ratio of dropped out students and never enrolled students stood at 5.1 and 24.4 per cent in Sindh; 3.6 and 20 per cent in Balochistan; 7 and 9.1 per cent in Punjab and 4.1 and 10.5 per cent in KP. The ratio of out-of-school girl children among those assessed was at 50.2 per cent in Sindh, 54.7 per cent in Punjab, 58.7 per cent in KP and 49.3 per cent in Balochistan.

PAID TUITION: The ASER survey this year also came up with an interesting finding that the extra-school tuition was taken by 20.2 per cent in Punjab, 7.9 per cent in KP, 4.9 per cent in Sindh and 4 per cent in Balochistan.

The incidence of extra-school tuitions in all provinces was found lower among children in public sector schools as compared to children in private sector schools.

In Punjab, 15.6 per cent and 30.1 per cent of public and private schools, respectively, found taking paid tuition; In KP, this ratio stood at 3.1 per cent and 22.5 per cent; 2.6 per cent and 18 per cent in Sindh; and 2 per cent and 30.2 per cent in Balochistan.

SAFED coordinator Baela Raza Jamil told Dawn the persistent gender-based gaps in learning levels needed to be taken-up seriously by all state and non-state actors. She said that it was a matter of grave concern that the learning levels for girls in rural areas were consistently lower than boys in all three competencies across all provinces and areas. She said girls were also having lower level of access to educational facilities than boys.

With the passing of the 18th Amendment having Article 25-A in 2010, she said, education was finally made a fundamental right for all children aged 5-16.

Though legislation at provinces’ level is yet to be finalised while almost 21 months have passed, Ms Jamil hoped that the year 2012 in Pakistan would be a year of action in bringing out the legislation for 25-A – backed by the government resolve to support it with resources and implementation.

Referring to plus points with respect to gender, she said, the households wanted education for their girls and boys. “Co-education is not an issue to a majority of the households provided they are sure that learning is taking place,” Ms Jamil added.