The government’s data on education in the country is riddled with mistakes, at times irrelevant and outdated which is largely because of the census not having been held since 1998.
Additionally, NGOs are only interested in basic level data, which helps them confirm that the funds they are utilising are working. This was stated by Asif Memon, associate research fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) at the “Data Revolution: Bringing Data and Evidence to bear upon Pakistan’s Education Policymaking” session at SDPI’s 17th sustainable development conference.
Panellists were discussing the issue at the session, which was chaired by UNDP Country Director Mark-Andre Franche, who engaged the panellists in discussing data revolution and its plausibility in Pakistan.
Saman Naz, data and evidence campaign manager of Alif Ailaan, said due to a lack of data on the population, and hence the number of school-going children in Pakistan, the figure for out-of-school children is highly disputed.
According to estimates by ASER, the figure stands at nine million, 16 million less than the number computed by Alif Ailaan in a report. “You can’t fix it if you can’t measure it”, said Naz.
Memon also pointed out that national data being used for analysis is outdated, riddled with errors and irrelevant when it comes to policy-making. He further added that data inequality is deeply rooted in an individual’s ability to acquire data from sources that are not accessible to all. According to estimates, he said, “Pakistan might need 135,000 more teachers and 43 billion rupees to get 5.4 million children back in school (20% more than the current level of spending).”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2014.