ISLAMABAD: A staggering 24 million Pakistani children are out of school, a new government report showed, laying bare the state of education in a country where around a quarter of the population is believed to be under 16.
Of the 50.8 million children aged five to 16 in the country, 47 per cent do not receive an education, according to the annual Pakistan Education Statistics report for 2014-2015, a rare example in Pakistan of a government document exposing a stark reality.
Mosharraf Zaidi, campaign director for Alif Ailaan, a non-government organisation working to improve education, branded the public education system a "complete failure".
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However he praised the report itself on Friday, saying it was "important for government documents to reflect reality".
Pakistan has not conducted a national census for 17 years, but around two-thirds of the roughly 200 million population are believed to be under 30.
The report, released Thursday and compiled using population projections and demographic analysis, put the number of school-age children at 50.8 million.
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Of the 24 million who are not in school, more are girls -- 12.8 million compared to 11.2 million boys, said the report, which also revealed that 69 per cent of children enrolled at primary school level drop out by the fifth year.
It also highlighted the lack of resources for education in Pakistan. Around 29 per cent of government primary schools operate with just a single teacher, it said, 18 per cent have only one classroom, and nine per cent do not even have a building.
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But the report did have a silver lining: the number of children out of school is around one million less than the previous year.