ISLAMABAD: While the nation celebrates the International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Education has released statistics showing that 49 per cent of girls in the country are out of school as compared to 40 per cent of boys. Collectively, 44 per cent of the children in the country are not attending schools.
The Pakistan Education Statistics 2015-16 released on Wednesday states that there are an estimated 51.2m children between the ages of 5-16. Around 28.5m of these children study in schools while 22.6m are out of school. “However, the dropout rate is a serious concern [while] enrollment remains the major challenge,” it says.
According to the data, Balochistan is on top of the list, with an alarming 70% of children out of school. Balochistan is followed by the Fata, Sindh, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and Islamabad with respectively 58%, 55%, 50%, 50% 38%, 36%, 12% children out of school.
Gender disparity in ratio of out of school children exist in every province and region. In Balochistan 78% of girls are out of school compared to 63% of boys. Around 74% of girls are out of school in Fata, 61% in Sindh, 53% in the G-B, 52% in the AJK, 50% in the K-P and 40% in Punjab.
The out of school (OOS) percentage seems to increase with age. The issue of retention is still a matter of concern as only 30% of the children enrolled in class 1 reach class 10 while the rest of them drop out.
Besides, the enrollment drops drastically at the middle and high school levels. The net enrollment, which stands at 77% at primary level, drops to 49% at the middle and 32% at the high school level.
The report shows that about 21% of government primary schools are operating with a single teacher and 14% with a single classroom. However, the present situation reflects an improvement as in 2012 30% of the schools had a single teacher while 17% had a single classroom.
Despite some improvements in government schools with regard to facilities, a lot still needs to be done as 43% buildings are in an unsatisfactory condition while 40% of primary and secondary schools have no electricity connection. Some 29% schools have no drinking water while 28% have no toilets.
The report also highlights some positive aspects of the education sector. According to it, the OOSC has decreased from 24m in 2014-15 to 22.6m besides the net enrollment in primary education has gone up from 15.8 million in 2014-15 to 17.1 million in 2015-16. The net enrollment in non-formal education has also gone up from 0.78 million in 2014-15 to 1.28 million in 2015-16.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2017.