Although enrolment campaigns are being rolled out one after the other, there are still 180,685 children between the ages of five and 16 who are out of school in the provincial capital.
According to the latest data compiled by Alif Ailaan for their annual report, most children cannot attend school due to poverty.
The report, which will be launched in the coming weeks, stresses on poverty being a barrier between children and education. It stated 41% of out of school children are from low-income backgrounds whereas only 11% of those who are not enrolled in any school are from affluent backgrounds and are not kept away from schools due to financial constraints. The remaining 48% are not in the system due to a variety of reasons.
An amount of Rs3.42 billion was allocated for elementary and secondary education in the budget of 2014-15, but a major portion of the amount went to paying salaries; the rest was spent on fixing school infrastructure.
From primary to high school
The Alif Ailaan report states that the net enrolment rate at the primary level is 61% and this rate drops down to 25% by the time students reach middle school and further shrinks to 12% by high school. Even if children manage to get into school, only 48% girls and 65% boys get to study after completing grade five, adds the report.
However, the issue is two-sided; schools have not been equipped to handle a large number of students.
About 12% of primary schools have only one teacher for the entire school. The report says that on average in a primary level school, 48 students are taught by a single teacher.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Alif Ailaan Regional Coordinator Umer Orakzai said in Peshawar, schools mainly cater to primary level education as 77% of government schools in the district are primary schools.
Peshawar District Education Officer Sharif Gul admitted there are still loopholes in the education system but, he added, “The current government is taking steps for improvement”.
When asked about insufficient space in schools to accommodate a growing number of students, Gul denied that such a problem exists. He said the government has instructed each school to take in more students.
He reiterated the findings of the report and said poverty is the main reason why children are kept away from schools as they are made to do menial jobs to support their families rather than educating themselves.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2015.
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