Majority of primary-level students cannot read this headline, says survey

Published: January 27, 2012
Children’s attendance continues to be a challenge with 79.7% of pupils in attendance at a government school in rural areas, compared to 85.2% for those in private schools.

Children’s attendance continues to be a challenge with 79.7% of pupils in attendance at a government school in rural areas, compared to 85.2% for those in private schools.


The children are going to school, but a majority clearing primary level cannot even read second grade texts in Urdu, English or their mother tongue, or perform basic arithmetic calculations, reveals the Annual Status of Education Report 2011.

The report, based on a survey conducted by the South Asia Forum for Education Development, assessed the learning outcome of school-going children, between five and 16 years of age, in 84 rural and three urban districts.

The survey finds out that only 41.8% of children assessed can read at least a sentence in Urdu or their own regional language, while merely 25.8% of those assessed are able to read a sentence in English.

The survey covered 2,502 villages, 97 urban blocks, 49,793 households and 146,874 children, with the help of 5,000 volunteers. The situation gets bleaker as years of schooling increases. According to the survey, 52.6% of children in grade 5 cannot read grade 2 level stories in Urdu or mother tongue, 59.4% cannot read grade 2 level sentences in English and 62.7% cannot do a three-digit division in mathematics.


The difference in teachers’ attendance across public and private schools may be narrowing, the report states.

In rural areas, 83% of teachers were present on any given day at a government school while the figure hovered around 89% for private schools.

Children’s attendance continues to be a challenge with 79.7% of pupils in attendance at a government school in rural areas, compared to 85.2% for those in private schools.

In the urban sample, Karachi was found to have the lowest student attendance rates.


More children are sent to school early on in Punjab compared to rest of the country, says the report.

Enrollment rate for three- to five-year-olds was the highest, 51.3%, in Punjab and lowest, 29.4% in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Of the urban areas, Karachi topped the list with 68.9% of this age group enrolled, mostly in private schools.

Of the six to 16-year-olds surveyed, the rural enrolment stood at 80%. In the three urban districts surveyed, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, the enrolment stood at around 90%.

Despite the security situation, 75% of children surveyed in Fata were found to be enrolled in schools. Of them, 56% were in government schools, 35% went to private schools while 5.4% were enrolled in madrassas.


The report noted that facilities in government schools have improved most in Punjab, followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In Punjab, 80% of government schools have a useable water facility and 70% have a functional toilet. The same facilities are available in 59 and 52 per cent of schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, respectively.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Shahbaz lodhi
    Jan 27, 2012 - 8:01AM

    What a pathetic situation half of the nation can’t able to understand primary sentences whom will blame for this mistake ?


  • Dr Ali Huesien
    Jan 27, 2012 - 9:20AM

    This so sad.What future are we leaving behind.
    So the question is : education for what?
    as it is some of the current curriculum teaches hate


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 27, 2012 - 11:54AM

    Pathetic and shocking. What is the main curriculum in these schools? Hate-mongering? Jihad?


  • Zeeshan Ummaid Ali
    Jan 27, 2012 - 1:38PM

    government school teachers are a big failure to the nation… They do not teach well so the students have to find other means (tuition centres). Other students who cannot pay the fees of tuition centres just dont get to learn anything… Nether the teachers nor the students arrive in any government schools and colleges…

    All the teachers do is blame the students… IT IS A BIG FailUre of the TEACHERS if they do their JOB… Nomatter what kind of student one is, at the end of the year he should be able to know much about that particular course….


  • jumbo
    Jan 27, 2012 - 2:42PM

    100% sure, hatred towards other religions, nations. well done, just wait for next generation kids, the jihadis, protectors of religion, and then straight to heaven.
    shows why pakis hate other religions


  • Temur
    Jan 27, 2012 - 3:34PM

    Should not be a surprise. I bet even their teachers cannot read a single sentence in Urdu or English with a proper diction and enunciation. Have you guys ever noticed how our newscasters and reporters literally rape Urdu every day on our various low-standard TV News Channels?


  • Truth From Pakistan
    Jan 27, 2012 - 5:41PM

    Now this is real big time alarming news. But, I doubt if its going to be given attention by the relevant authorities, as usual !


  • BS.Detecter
    Jan 27, 2012 - 5:59PM

    Care to explain what is jihad?


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 27, 2012 - 7:06PM


    We are still trying to figure it out. The word ‘jihad” has been used by every vested party in the land. Can you explain it to us? Mullahs say one thing, my pals say another while militants who kill Pakistani soldiers claim it is jihad. Sunni militants who target Shia claim it is jihad.


  • zain
    Jan 27, 2012 - 7:45PM

    you are talking about students.
    i can bet many primary teachers cant read this headline


  • zain
    Jan 27, 2012 - 7:46PM

    our primary teachers are getting salaries for doing noting .
    most of teacher dont bother to come to school for weeks.


  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Jan 27, 2012 - 9:48PM

    They are not even taught basic answers of their own religion. A student was asked to write names of four revealed books by Allah. The answer which he wrote was: Holy Quran Muhammad (PBH) and the names of other books were, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. The student was Muslim and his teacher is a highly qualified person. When the teacher ask him who told you this he said a Moulana Sahib comes to our home to give lesson on religion. What to talk about other subjects.


  • Feb 10, 2012 - 3:55PM

    These finding are alarming for the future of Pakistan. Although I won’t blame to either teacher or students only but to blame for all of us. Today, we as individuals don’t give respect to our teachers and they haven’t got the proper training which they suppose to get it so this has a huge impact on students.
    Have you published these finding somewhere? I am very interested to read the full report on this. if would be much appreciated if you could send source or web link?


  • Khanum
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:58PM

    Careless teachers n students.


  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Feb 16, 2012 - 8:17PM

    yes I was right..Recommend

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