Gloomy picture: 25m children out of school, says new report

More than half of the country’s out-of-school children live in Punjab

Riazul Haq October 22, 2014


In Pakistan around 25 million girls and boys – between 5 and 16 years of age – are out of school while 23% of these children are of primary-school-going age. The proportion increases with the rise in level of education and almost 85% children do not reach higher-secondary level.

These fresh statistics and details on child education were shared on Tuesday in a report ‘25 Million Broken Promises; The crisis of Pakistan’s out-of-school children’ at National Education Management Information System (NEMIS).

Punjab leads

According to the report, in absolute terms more than half of country’s out-of-school children (OOSC), ie, 52% live in Punjab; 25% in Sindh; 10% in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa (K-P); 7% in Balochistan; 3% in Fata; 2% in Azad Jammu Kashmir; 1% in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and 0.2% in Islamabad Capital Territory.

For the purpose of study, the NEMIS has relied on the data of federal government’s National Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS).

According to NIPS, currently there are 52.91 million children in Pakistan between the ages of 5-16. Among this group, calculations show that only 27.89 million attend an education institute (government or private), leaving 25.02 million children out of school.

There are currently 5.1 million children of primary-school-going age out of school. More worryingly, the percentage of the OOSC increases dramatically beyond the primary level. At the higher secondary level, for example, the percentage of OOSC is as high as 85%.

Gender disparity

The report reveals vast regional disparities in providing girls with equal opportunities for education. Nationally, 15.9 million boys, between ages of 5-16, are enrolled, compared to just 11.9 million girls. As a result, 13.7 million girls and 11.4 million boys are out of school.

In regions, the greatest disparity is in Fata, followed by Balochistan and Punjab. In Fata 78% girls are out of school compared to 47% boys while 72% girls in Balochistan are out of school with boys at 60%.

Similarly, in Punjab around 50.4% girls are out of school compared to 43% boys. Almost the same trend is witnessed in Sindh where 57% girls and 45% boys have yet to be enrolled while in the K-P the figure is 49.7% for girls and 20% for boys.

Urban-rural, economic disparity

It goes without saying that the number of the OOSC increases as income levels fall. Among children belonging to the poorest households, 57% are not in school while it is 26% in upper middle and 10% in rich.

Older children out of school

The report suggests interesting percentage of the OOSC. It states that the proportion of the OOSC decreases up to the age of eight but then rises sharply so that by the age of 16 more than 55% of children are out of school.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.


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