PESHAWAR: Around 34,000 students, previously attending private schools, left their institutes and joined government schools over the past six months across 23 districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
This was stated in a survey conducted by K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Department with assistance from a non-profit organisation called Adam Smith International.
The survey, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, showed that from September 2015 to March 2016, a large number of students in the province left private schools and were enrolled in government institutes for various reasons. These included distances from home, rising expenses and dwindling quality of education.
In order to probe the matter, the K-P Education Sector Programme technical assistance component was initially asked to carry out a survey in one district. It was held in March 2016 in Haripur and had sample strength of 182 students.
It revealed majority of students left private schools due to two reasons – either their institutes were closed down or there were no further grades or classes for them to pass or progress to.
Soon, a second survey was conducted in 23 districts. Parents stated they had shifted their children to government schools due to improvement in the quality of state-run entities.
The survey also showed that 62% of parents had not enrolled their children in government schools at the time of initial enrolment as they deemed the quality of education to be poor. Meanwhile, 19% of respondents felt government schools were too far from their homes at the time.
Moreover, other respondents stated either their relatives were not enrolled in government schools or that these institutions did not impart adequate religious education.
The document, available with The Express Tribune, also showed around 50% of parents had taken their children out of private schools due to increasing educational expenses, 28% had done so due to substandard quality of teaching and 19% stated private schools had inadequate learning and teaching materials. A small proportion of people were against coeducation, while some believed their child was not intelligent enough to cope with the private education system. Some stated the schools were not in close proximity to their homes.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Adam Smith International media adviser Najiullah Khattak confirmed the main reasons for students shifting to government schools were provision of low quality of education provided by private schools, higher fee structure, other educational expenses and longer distances from houses.
He said the survey also showed parents feel government schools had started to improve. “While the situation is not perfect, government schools are nonetheless providing better value for money for people in the province over the last two years,” Khattak said.
He said the government constructed play areas in around 3,000 schools across the province for the first time and similar facilities will be extended in 10,000 additional schools.
Khattak added thousands of new teachers were recruited through the National Testing Service and the government was also planning to provide training facilities to teachers to enhance the quality of education.
Current state of affairs
When asked whether parents were happy with government schools their children now went to, more than 96% replied in the affirmative.
Around 46% of respondents said they could not find any fault with government schools and said they believed they were in fact at par with or even better than private schools.
About 13% of respondents suggested teachers in government schools needed more training and should be specialised to instruct on different subjects.
At least 10% of households stated facilities and environment of government schools needed to be improved, particularly in terms of increasing space and providing adequate furniture.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2016.