International literacy day: Only half of Sindh goes to primary school

Published: September 8, 2014
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Despite repeated commitments from all major political parties, there seems to be a long way to go before the country is able to provide quality education for all. PHOTO: STOCK IMAGE

Despite repeated commitments from all major political parties, there seems to be a long way to go before the country is able to provide quality education for all. PHOTO: STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: With every third child between the ages of five and 16 out of school, Sindh will shakily mark the International Literacy Day 2014 today.

At present, the official literacy rate in the province stands at a shocking 59%. But according to the definition of literacy that is unbecomingly used in Pakistan, each person who can sign their name is considered to be literate.

For this reason, asserted Mosharraf Zaidi, the campaign director of Alif Ailaan – a national alliance for education reform, the official literacy statistics, as such, do not provide an accurate measure of reading and writing ability among the populace.

“Literacy is the ability to read and write but the way it is measured in Pakistan is very limited,” said Zaidi. “Even with this distorted terminology, we have one of the world’s lowest literacy rates and we lament this fact year after year. We are shamelessly allowing illiteracy to continue in this country. Where is the protest against this abomination and national catastrophe?” he questioned.

Baela Raza Jamil, the programmes director at the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, concurred. She asserted that the government, which currently appears to be out of sync with time and reality, direly needs to improve its policy definition in order to have a ‘functionally literate’ population.

“Without instilling the comprehensive notion of literacy in the future government policies and financial plans, our society will not be able to sustain for long,” warned Jamil.

Statistics disprove claims

Despite repeated commitments from all major political parties, there seems to be a long way to go before the country is able to provide quality education for all.

The net enrolment rate at the primary-level of education in Sindh stands as low as 52 per cent which means nearly half of all children, whose schooling otherwise should have begun, are still out of schools, according to the official Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2012-13.

What is even more shocking is the drastic drop in enrolment at subsequent levels of education, with middle school enrolment reducing to 19 per cent and high school enrolment dwindling further to a meagre 12 per cent.

The government manages to enroll nearly half of the school-going-age children at the primary-level of education, but even around 77 per cent of these fail to continue education till high school.

Among the 23 districts of Sindh, 13 still hold the ever-expanding population with literacy even below 50%. In districts such as Thatta and Tando Muhammad Khan, the literacy rate stands at its lowest (36%), followed by Jacobabad (37%) and Badin and Kashmore (39%).

“For a more vivid picture, exclude the urban districts with relatively higher literacy rates, including Karachi [79 per cent] and Hyderabad [69 per cent], and see what misbalance this will cause to the cumulative statistics,” argued Jamil.

For Zaidi, political instability in the country has been a major problem for education.

In Sindh, for the first time, maintained Zaidi, political leadership from the very top has decided to improve teachers’ governance, but with almost no media attention to the issue, any possible gains are at risk of being drowned out in other political noise.

“Pakistan needs simultaneous reform in all areas, including the economy, election processes and anti-corruption,” added Zaidi. “But the one area that can make everything a lot better automatically is literacy and education.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Shuaib Bhat
    Sep 8, 2014 - 7:51AM

    People of Sindh please stop voting in PPP. They have been in power in Sindh for 30 years. It is time the people of Sindh change their voting pattern.

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  • Kashif Nawaz Shaikh
    Sep 8, 2014 - 9:58AM

    We are ashamed by these Stats….high time some one takes an action and make education a high priority. Ideal to do this would be someone like Bilawal..who can really take an action and lead a campain for educating SINDH

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  • Karachi Wally
    Sep 8, 2014 - 12:04PM

    Once a PPP leader was asked that “there is lot of discontent in people of Sindh and you can see that on social media sites such as FB and Twitter, etc. Isn’t this going to be threat to the popularity of PPP in Sindh where people have been voting for you.He replied, “Our voters are uneducated and illiterate and they cannot read anything reported in FB, Twitter or English press so we are not bothered about any discontent.”

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  • Parvez
    Sep 8, 2014 - 3:02PM

    Te other half half sit in the Sind assembly.

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  • Ali
    Sep 8, 2014 - 5:23PM

    This is in the interests of the Pakistan Feudal Party.
    Notice that they promised, houses, clothes, food. (Which they have failed to deliver any way)
    No mention of education, law and order, infrastrucutre etc etc.

    Perhaps someone can bring the issue up in one of Billawal’s open meetings. Being an ardent socialist, and having been educated at Oxford , (and having been educate at elite private schools and living most of his time in Dubai) he’d be well placed to understand and resolve the issue?

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  • abid
    Sep 8, 2014 - 6:58PM

    Congratulations to Mr Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Sb. Atleast in this matter our Sindh has outperformed all other provinces. Further, you have inquire that what quality of education is getting by the other part of the Sindh’s Children (the lucky one to get into the school)???

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