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.