The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011 was launched on January 26, 2012 at the Planning Commission auditorium Islamabad. For this report, the data was collected with the help of more than 5000 volunteers as a nationwide citizens’ effort on education and learning accountability, in 84 rural districts and 3 urban city districts, covering 2,502 villages, 97 urban blocks, 49,793 households and 146,874 children. The report highlights trends in learning for 5-16 year olds -and access for 3-16 year olds disaggregated by gender. According to this report the Early Childhood education (3-5 year olds) shows the highest enrollment of 51.3% in Punjab and lowest in Gilgit-Baltistan (29.4%) with majority enrolled in government schools. For urban areas this trend is highest in Karachi (68.9%) with majority of children in private schools (Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar).
Of the 6-16 year olds surveyed the rural enrolment trend is 80% whilst out of school persists
at 20% comprising of higher number of children who have never enrolled (15% never enrolled and 5.0% drop out). In the 3 urban city districts the enrolment is around 90%. Girls lag behind boys in enrolment and learning in rural areas. In urban areas the trends for girls is much better than their rural counterparts. In Karachi for instance, among the enrolled children 52.4% were girls as compared to 47.6% boys. Also, 45% girls were found to be able to read simple sentences in Urdu/Sindhi as compared to the 38% boys who could read sentences in Urdu/Sindhi.
The overall rural private sector enrolment accounts for 23%. Of the total enrolment 2 percent study in madrasahs (highest Madrasah enrollment in Balochistan Province (5.2%) and district
Bahawalpur in Punjab at 5%). Not only are families paying for private schools fees but 11% rural households are also paying for tuition centres/preparatory academies. In urban areas this trend is from 31% to 50%. In the rural sample the percentage of government school children taking tuitions is 7.1% vs. private school children which is 24%. In rural districts like Nankana Sahib and Sheikhupura supplementary learning is highest (37%). The trends of rural non-state private schooling are highest in the provinces/areas of: GilgitBaltistan (43%) and Punjab (33%) and lowest in Sindh (10%).
Like 2010 the ASER 2011 evidence is most worrying on learning levels across school systems 47.4% of the children in grade 5 can read Urdu/Sindhi while 52.6% of children completing primary will not be able to read simple grade 2 level stories in Urdu or mother tongue.
40.6 % of the children in grade 5 can read English sentences while 59.4 % of children completing primary will not be able to read simple grade 2 level sentences in English.
37.3 % of the children in grade 5 can do three digit division (grade III level) while 62.7% of children completing primary will not be able to do the simple 3-digit division.
In the rural sample teachers attendance (overall) in government schools is 83% whilst for primary level it is 85% on a given day; the comparable figures for private schools are 89% overall and 83% at the primary level.
The difference across public and private in teachers’ presence may be narrowing.The presence of children continues to be a challenge with 79.7% children present in government schools (rural) on a given day according to the headcount measure and 85.2% in private schools (rural). In the urban sample Karachi was found to have the lowest student attendance rates. Overall student attendance in government schools in Karachi on the day of the visit was 66.5% according to the head count measure.
In FATA 75 % children were found to be enrolled in schools while 25 % were out of school. Among the enrolled 56 % were in government schools, 35% went to private schools while 5.4% were enrolled in madrasahs. 30% children in the 5-16 age group could read story level text in Urdu while 18% could read simple English Sentences. 31.8% were found to be able to do simple 3 digit subtraction sums.
Facilities in government schools have improved most in Punjab followed by KP. In Punjab 80% government schools have a useable water facility and 70% have a functional toilet
whereas in KP 59% government schools were found with a useable water facility and 52% with a functional toilet.
Mothers’ literacy in rural areas persists at 34.5% compared to 32.3% in 2010 whilst for urban mothers this is 61% (Peshawar) 77% (Lahore) and 82% (Karachi).
The above given statistics have raised a question of accountability for the current government. Pakistan is not only a signatory of both international declarations “Education For All” & “Millennium Development Goals”, but Article 25-A (the Right to Education) has been inserted in the chapter of the fundamental rights of the Constitution as part of the 18th Constitutional amendment under which “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.” The above given statistics once again reconfirm the continuation of conventional challenges including disparities in opportunities particularly for the rural poor and girls, poor quality education, low enrollment and completion rates, high drop-out rates and low levels of transition to secondary education. According to UNESCO’s report “Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2011”, there are 7.261 million children out of school at the primary level, and 58% are female, and overall all estimates of 5-16 year olds who are out of school go up to 20 million children. Under such circumstances, the question is “how will Pakistan compete in the forthcoming era of knowledge economies?”. Both Pakistan government and the nation need to realize that today’s young children will be the future workforce. Keeping in view the forthcoming challenges of the knowledge revolution we, as a nation, have to put “Education” on the top priority. Otherwise, Pakistan gets ready for a socio-economic alienation from the global community.