Pakistan Education Atlas 2013: Education survey reveals mixed bag of results

Published: March 26, 2014
42% of adults illiterate, but more girls making it to middle school. PHOTO: FILE

42% of adults illiterate, but more girls making it to middle school. PHOTO: FILE

42% of adults illiterate, but more girls making it to middle school. PHOTO: FILE 42% of adults illiterate, but more girls making it to middle school.

For the last few years, Pakistan’s adult literacy rate has stagnated at 58% – almost half the country’s adult population is unable to read or write. The figure is not surprising when you consider that only 50% of the country’s rural population has ever attended school; the number is higher for urban populations, at 73%.

According to the Pakistan Education Atlas 2013, launched on Tuesday, improvement in the education sector moves at a snail’s pace, with 32% of children aged 5-9 years out of school. 17% of primary schools consist of a single room.

It’s not all grim news, though – 91% of girls make it from primary school to middle school (higher than the number of boys, at 78%).

State Minister for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman formally launched the report on Tuesday and reiterated the government’s pledge to improve education in the country. Even though education has been devolved to provinces, he said, they ‘have agreed to the constitution of a National Curriculum Commission to bring the education system on the same page across Pakistan’. Speaking at the launch, World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Pakistan Lola Castro said the WFP had contributed to the report as it wished to ‘support and promote this important educational undertaking’ in the country.

According to the report, almost seven million children are out of primary schools in the country. “The quality of education across multiple levels is also lagging by most standards,” the report states. Some provinces fare relatively better than others in the education sector, with a ‘survival rate’ – the percentage of students completing primary school education – of 96% in Islamabad Capital Territory and a robust 95% in Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa clocks in at 64%. The number is lowest in Balochistan and Sindh – 43% each. Survival rates in Punjab stand at 56%, 48% in Fata.

From primary to middle school

The results are encouraging with regards to the number of students able to reach middle school in Pakistan, particularly in Fata, where the number has crept up from 44% in 2010 to 61% this year. 100% of Islamabad students make it to middle school and 87% in Punjab. The number stands at 89% in G-B, 72% in K-P, 69% in Azad Jammu Kashmir and 67% in Balochistan. Sindh has the lowest number of students reaching middle-school level, at 59%.

Poor grade

Students in 64% of primary schools in the country have access to drinking water – in Azad Jammu Kashmir, the number plummets to 27%. In Islamabad, 185 schools out of 191 have access to clean water.

Meanwhile, 49% of government primary schools have electricity. Of more than 10,000 schools in Balochistan, only 1,662 schools are provided with electricity.

Furthermore, only 58% of schools in the country have facilities for toilets – only 2,000 schools in Balochistan provided such access to students.

When State Minister for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman was questioned about the report’s findings, he said a 188-billion rupee National Plan of Action has been earmarked over three years to target out-of-school children and missing facilities in schools across the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Safeway
    Mar 26, 2014 - 10:35AM

    If you check the statistics, Sindh is in the worst conditions, its numbers shows that is in a worse condition than regions like Balochistan or FATA. Up until to the early 70’s education wise, Sindh was only behind Punjab. 40 years of PPP rule are showing their results.


  • AB
    Mar 26, 2014 - 10:39AM

    Education level in Pakistan is so low. These figures of literacy includes even those who can write and read their name.


  • ironMan!
    Mar 26, 2014 - 11:20AM

    KP (amongst all provinces) has the best survival % (both genders) – no wonder they don’t give a second chance to a failed government in its province! As for the rest, illiteracy rules and votes under threat and small favours. tsk


  • Necromancer
    Mar 26, 2014 - 11:51AM

    Standing ovation to PPP for making us sindhis proud we don’t need education we need culture………so BBZaradri more cultural festivals please.


  • Ayfer
    Mar 26, 2014 - 12:44PM

    In Pakistan the budget allocated to education is too less. There are so many graduates wanting to teach students but they don’t have the resources to do so. I am amazed how Gilgit-Baltistan is moving.


  • arshad durrani
    Mar 26, 2014 - 1:56PM

    In Swat,which is largely rural,primary participation increases dramatically when we open feeder schools closer to their homes.Girls exceed boys.The girls drop-out in large numbers after primary.We need to have girls middle and higher secondary schools for girls in distant locations.One thing is for sure;there is no reservation to education on gender basis.We need to support govt schools with volunteer teachers,and minimal infrastructure and mobilise the communities to play their part.


  • Reshma
    Mar 26, 2014 - 3:29PM

    @Ayfer: I agree that Gilgit-Baltistan is moving ahead quite fast, however the variation in the level of education within the area is too wide. Some areas have progressed and others are just at the opposite end. Some communities are more ahead while others just resist progress. But the deriving force behind is the civil society, the general culture of people’s perception, and the examples set by educated people are but a few.


  • Ajaz
    Mar 26, 2014 - 6:28PM

    The credit behind higher litteracy rate in Gilgit Baltistan goes the private NGOs, espacialy Aga Khan Development Institutions. Recommend

  • Najeeb Ullah
    Mar 26, 2014 - 6:58PM

    Gilgit-Baltistan used to be behind most of other territories till the 1990s . Even in 1998 census GB was lower than most of the provinces. But the contribution of civil society in the last two decades has been phenomenal in education and public health. But quality wise GB is no different from other provinces of Pakistan(a recent study showed that less than 50% of grade 5 students can read books of grade2). Government and civil society need to focus on that. In addition GB gets the lowest share of education fund, so that has to be looked into too, as the data shows 36 percent schools have just a single teacher, far below the average for other regions.


  • mohsin
    Mar 26, 2014 - 9:22PM

    there is a general perception in pakistan that private sector schools are much better then the govt schools … i totally agree with that because the deriving force in GB is private sector schools Plus competition and mainly general public awareness towards education . Recommend

  • Ali S
    Mar 26, 2014 - 9:28PM


    And I’m sure the vast majority of Sindh’s literacy is contributed by Karachi and Hyderabad.Recommend

  • Mar 26, 2014 - 9:48PM

    The government hasn’t contributed much in delivering these kind of results in GB. In fact these are outcomes of mainly two factors. Firstly, the positive attitude of people in GB toward education, who look at it as a passport to a better quality of life and secondly the work done by NGOs especially the Aga Khan Development Network(AKDN).Recommend

  • Adnan Hussain
    Mar 27, 2014 - 6:39PM

    Well I am amazed by the performance of Gilgit-Baltistans people. I personally am quite successful not because the gov. did for me but because of the private sectors. They get the lowest budget in education and same in other departments. Well will never be able to increase our literacy rate by allocating 4%of the budget to education. The current literacy rate is shameful since it’s been included with the those people who can hardly read or can only write there name. You need quality education to fertile the mind of our country people and it can only be done by maximum education allowances. I’m talking about quality education. Its the only way to root out corruption, extremism and ignorance in our doomed society. Only education can revolutionize our mind and society. Best wishes


    Mar 28, 2014 - 6:46PM

    Overall the situation is deplorable. where is the change (tabdeekli) in KPK and FATA It is amazing to see Gilgit-baltistan scoring the highest for girls survival rate, even higher than Islamabad.


  • Amin Ansari
    Apr 1, 2014 - 4:43PM

    Nida, this is a reflection of decades of policies. Surely you don’t expect this can be changed in less than a year, do you?


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