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Children assembled before the class—Photo courtesy of Fayyaz Ahmed

KARACHI: Pakistan stands second in global ranking of out-of-school children with 57.3 per cent children in the 3-5 age group not enrolled in any school in the rural areas and 65.5 per cent mothers being in the illiterate category.

Citing the figures at the launch of the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser), Pakistan, here on Monday, experts said the challenges on the educational front could not be overcome unless the citizens fought for quality education for their children as their fundamental right.

They also called for withdrawing teachers from election duties to minimise political interference and promote merit in their appointments.

The programme was organized by the Idara Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) and South Asian Forum for Education Development.

A total of 48,646 households were surveyed in 2,502 villages across 84 rural districts. This was the second Aser survey, which also includes data from three urban districts (Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad) for the first time. Children aged 5-16 were tested for language and arithmetic competencies while detailed information was collected about children above three years of age. Data was also collected from government and private schools.

Sharing details of the national survey (rural), ITA programmed director Baela Raza Jamil said of the 32,323 children surveyed in the 3-5 age group, 57.3pc were not enrolled in any school. Of those enrolled, 67. 6pc were in government schools, 29.3pc in private schools, 2.7pc in madressahs and 0.4pc in 'other' institutions. Girls' enrollment stood at 42.2 per cent.

“Among children aged 5, an age at which one expects children to be enrolled in some educational facility, 32.3pc were not enrolled in any school,” she said.

Gender disparity, she said, was clearly reflected in the survey. School enrolment for children aged 6-16 years stood at 79.9pc, comprising 36pc girls and 64pc boys.

It was also found that in 44.4pc cases, class 2 students were sitting with those of other classes which, according to Ms Jamil, was one of the major hindrances in learning.

According to the report, of the 20.1 per cent children found out of school, 5pc had dropped out, while 15.1pc had never been enrolled. Among the out-of-school children, 52.7pc were found to be girls.

The report states that 41.8pc children could read at least a sentence in Urdu or their own language, while 20.4pc were unable to read letters.

In government schools, only 37.5pc of class 3 students were able to read a story and 53.3pc students of the same class in private schools could read sentences.

Among the out-of-school children, 6.5pc could read story-level text and 11.2pc at the sentence level. About 65pc out-of-school children couldn't recognise letters.

Among government primary schools, 55.4pc had useable water facility, 43pc a functional toilet, 65.1pc boundary walls and 37.1pc a playground within the premises.

Of the 50,473 mothers in the sampled households, 49pc agreed to be tested for literacy and of them 65.6pc fell in the illiterate category.

PROVINCIAL DATA:

The survey presents a dismal picture of rural Sindh, covering 17 districts where it found 62.4pc young children un-enrolled. Girls' enrolment stood at 34.1pc.

The highest ratio of out-of-school children in the province was in Kashmore, followed by Thatta.

Of the enrolled children, 90pc were found in government schools, 9.2pc in private schools and 0.5pc in madressahs.

“Among children aged 5, 38.3pc were not enrolled in any school,” the report says.

School enrolment for children aged 6-16 years stood at 70.6pc, comprising 34.9pc girls and 65.1pc boys. Drop-out rate was 29.5pc, while 24.4pc had never been enrolled. Among the out-of-school children, 50.2pc were girls.

Only 37.3pc of class 3 students were able to read sentences, while 85.1pc could not read a story.

Enrolment sharply decreases as the class level increases.

Attendance in government schools was found at 70.6pc on the registers and 61.6pc according to headcount during visits.

Of the government primary schools surveyed, 47.8pc had useable water facility, 32.8pc functional toilet, 69.4pc boundary walls and 38pc a playground.

Among the mothers who agreed to be tested, 73.7pc were illiterate, the report says.