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Children in KP village schools suffer as they lack the knowledge and skills necessary to excel. File Photo

PESHAWAR: Around 60 per cent of grade II students in the rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 14 districts cannot read texts in  Urdu or their mother tongue and over 70 per cent English text, says a survey.

South Asia Forum for Education Development (Safed), which assessed the learning skills of students aged between five and 16 years in Upper Dir, Swat, Battagram, Swabi, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Charsadda, Mardan, Peshawar, Karak, Bannu, Tank and DI Khan, released the findings in its ‘Annual Status of Education Report’ (ASER) at a seminar at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday.

Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi, a local public trust, managed the survey on behalf of Safed, an education forum for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

According to the findings, 40.6 per cent grade II students of government and private schools could read at least a sentence in Urdu or their mother tongue, while 18 per cent were unable to read letters and were categorised as beginners. Only 31.3 per cent of grade III students were able to read sentences, while nearly 87.9 per cent children could not read a story.

Sixty-seven per cent of grade V students were able to read a story in Urdu or in their mother tongue and 31.5 per cent grade V students could read a story. In government schools, only 26.7 per cent of grade III students were able to read sentences, while in private schools this ratio stood at 41.1 per cent.

The numbers on reading ability of out-of-school children showed that 5.4 per cent children could read story text, while 1.6 per cent were at sentence level. A total of 57.4 per cent out-of-school children were at beginner’s level as they could not even recognise letters.

The English reading and comprehension test revealed that 26.3 per cent children could read sentences and 48.7 per cent words, while 20.6 per cent were unable to recognise alphabets and were categorised as beginners.

Grade-wise analysis of grade II level English text reading showed that 46.4 per cent children enrolled in Grade III were just able to read words, while only 13.3 per cent children could read sentences fluently.

Ironically, 41 per cent of those who could read sentences did so without understanding their meanings.

The survey showed that 58 per cent children couldn’t do two-digit subtraction and 77 per cent three-digit subtraction.

It also found that around 72 per cent children were enrolled in government schools and 28 per cent in non-state educational facilities – 27.5 per cent in private schools and 0.9 per cent in religious seminaries.

According to the survey, poor education at schools forced 7.9 per cent students into taking paid tuitions.

“The incidence of attending tuition was lower among children in public sector schools with 3.1 per cent compared to private sector schools, where 22.5 per cent children took paid tuitions.”

Also of the 668 schools assessed, including 412 run by government and 256 by private sector, student attendance in government schools found to be 84.7 per cent on register and 83.5 per cent on headcount.

In private schools, these percentages were 89.3 per cent and 84.4 per cent, respectively.

The teachers’ attendance level in government and private schools’ was recorded at 81.9 per cent and 90.5 per cent, respectively.

The inspection of government and private primary schools showed that 58.9 per cent and 84.7 per cent schools, respectively, had useable water facility.

As for availability of functional toilets, 51.6 per cent government and 80.6 per cent private schools had the facility.

On average, the number of classrooms at government schools was four and at private schools five. Boundary walls were found in 71.2 per cent government and 84.7 per cent private schools.

On the occasion, provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was the chief guest, said major reason of the deteriorating educational standards in the province was militancy, which left hundreds of schools in ruins to the misery of teachers and students.

He said his government bravely fought terrorism and restored law and order to a great extent for the benefit of education sector.

ASER director Bila Raza Jamil and educationists Sarwar Jahan, Khadim Hussain, Manzar Jan and Sultan Mohammad also spoke on the occasion.