ISLAMABAD: A survey on education revealed that around 20 per cent children in rural areas are out of school, while those enrolled show poor understanding of basic subjects.
The ‘Annual Status of Education Report Pakistan-Rural 2010’ was released here on Monday by the South Asia Forum for Education Development, which is managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in collaboration with the National Commission for Human Development, UNESCO, Foundation Open Society Institute and Sindh Education Foundation.
The objective of the survey was to gather data on enrollment and also gauge the utility of teaching methods in schools in rural areas of the country. For this purpose, school-going children between the ages of 3 to 16 in 32 rural districts across Pakistan were surveyed. The report exposed weaknesses in the indigenous education system, public and private, by indentifying that slightly more than half of the children surveyed could not read Urdu or their local language properly.
From among schoolchildren, 71 per cent were found to be in government schools, 27 per cent in private and less than two per cent were attending madrassas or other educational facilities.
The survey also revealed that the arithmetic understanding of the children was even poorer as only 44 per cent of children could do two-digit subtractions, while “the ability to read English text was a nightmare”, said another official. Only 32 per cent children could read sentences in English.
Furthermore, about 20 per cent children are out of school. The explanation of school enrolment data reveals that the student enrolment ratio fell sharply as they progressed from the first grade to the tenth.
The survey indentified that 16.7 per cent of the total enrolled children were in Class-I, while it dropped to 15.2 per cent in Class-II. Around 14 per cent were registered for Class-III and the enrolment dropped to a mere 3.3 per cent for the students in Class-X.
The survey was conducted in 19,006 households and 1,267 schools including 445 private schools. It covered 960 villages across 32 districts of all the five provinces, Azad Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
According to the breakup, as many as 13 districts were selected from Punjab, five from Balochistan, four from Khyber-Phakhtunkhwa, six from Sindh, two from Azad Kashmir and one each from Gilgit-Baltistan and ICT (rural).
To test mothers’ literacy, the survey accessed 54 per cent mothers. This was the number which agreed to be tested out of the total contacted.
It was found that only 32 per cent mothers were able to read a simple paragraph from grade-I text, while the remaining 68 per cent fell in the illiterate category.
“How can we expect miracles from children when a majority of mothers are illiterate,” said Arshad Saeed Khan, Senior National Specialist on Education, who was representing UNESCO, while commenting on the state of Pakistan education.
“Pakistan has to implement the UNESCO convention to eliminate discrimination in the education system and bring all segments of society at par with each other,” the official added.
Another ‘astonishing’ finding was that 48 per cent of Class-V students could not read the text of Level-II course book.
This citizen-led sample survey also found out that of 10,246 children falling in 3-5 years age bracket, 44.7 per cent in rural areas were enrolled in some kind of pre-school education facility. The access of these students is mostly limited to government schools where learning conditions are far from adequate.
Special Advisor of the Prime Minister on Education Shahnaz Wazir Ali said the annual report would account for the students’ learning levels and missing facilities at their educational institutions.
“Such efforts are being appreciated by the government as provision of standard education to all segment of society is one of the agenda of PPP’s manifesto,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2011.
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