Saturday, June 2, 2012

Status of Education in Pakistan — Part I

The apathy towards educational decadence by the Pakistan's media is unbelievable. Thousands of hours are wasted on political hullabaloo, talk show crackle, enthralling meaningless breaking-news, and media trial of political parties in the country. These theatre shows have turn from entertainment shows to nuisance, belittling the intellectual capacity of the Pakistani people. TV channels have never run a 24/7 educational marathon, they have never discussed the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), they never talk about how the minds of the younger generation are being brainwashed through the educational system.

Map showing girls (age 6-16) out of school
in Pakistan. Source: ASER
The plight of education is much more horrible compared to the lose due to monetary corruption. Money can always be re-accumulated, but there is no alternative for human capital. A child brainwashed due to concocted syllabus becomes bewildered in the modern world. He can neither think for himself nor for others. Therefore, it is very important to discuss this saddening situation.

Four months back, a detailed report was published on the status of education in Pakistan. The report was title ASER. The statistics collected by the team are embarrassing, and speak out for revolutionary steps in the educational sector. An excellent analysis of the report was done by Zubeida Mustafa, an eminent Pakistani journalist. I'm quoting the following figures from her op Ed:
"52.6 per cent of children completing the primary (Grade 5) level are not able to read simple Grade 2 stories in Urdu or their mother tongue."
"62.7 per cent of children completing primary are not able to do simple three-digit division."
"50 per cent of the students drop out during the transition from the primary to secondary level." 
"80 per cent of the children aged five to 16 years enrol in school (of them only a third are girls) but nearly a quarter of them go to private schools."
"When the ASER teams visited schools, on an average 17 per cent of the teachers in the government institutions were absent when the figure for the private sector was 11 per cent."
Other important figures are:
"Around 94 per cent of grade three students in Sindh cannot read sentences in English while 62% cannot read Urdu or Sindhi sentences after being taught in grade two." 
"In FATA, 31.8% of 5-16 years students were found to be able to do simple 3 digit subtraction sums." 
"In Balochistan, the enrolment rate for girls is 26.3%."
The figures speaks for themselves. The status of girl education is much more distressing. Around 12-15% of girls between the age of 6 and 16 are out of school in Sindh and Balochistan while the figures in KPK and Punjab is between 9% to 11%. Such a low rate of woman education means that, the society still has a strong patriarchal character and insists on keeping woman uneducated in the 21st century.  

ASER team has done a tremendous job in collecting district wise data of all provinces including AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. The team surveyed 84 rural districts and 3 urban districts, covering 2,502 villages, 97 urban blocks, 49,793 households and 146,874 children. This comprehensive and detailed research includes statistics about school enrolment, pre-schooling and learning levels in Urdu, Arithmetic, and English, mother literacy and paid tuitions.

Punjab has a better educational standard compared to other provinces. It has the lowest percentage of out of school children in Pakistan; around 51% to 60% students attend pre-schooling; fewer percentage of girls are out of school compared to Sindh and Balochistan.

A separate analysis of Urban districts has also been done. The status of education in urban centres is far better when compared to the statistics acquired from rural areas of Pakistan. Near to hundred percent students of class 7 can read Urdu stories and English stories in Lahore and Karachi, while the figure in Peshawar for reading Urdu stories and English sentences are 68.8% and 85.9% respectively. 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 good news is that the urban districts have a much better educational statistics compared to rural Pakistan. A higher mother literacy rate in cities accelerates child enrolment rate, as an educated mother wouldn't like her child to be illiterate. Fostering a higher mothers' literacy rate in rural districts might increase the standard of education there. 

Secondly, the feudal culture present in rural Pakistan never allows education to prosper. For them educating young boys and girls means a lose of power. An educated person might question about the infinite power a feudal has over his people. A feudal would never want the children of the farmer to compete with his own children.

Talks and chatter for a prosperous Pakistan with such a state of education is nothing more than day dreaming. A poor human resource, non-creative intellect, and prisoned minds can never bring a change. 

Drastic actions are need to overturn this situation. But, unfortunately, the government has allocated a pity 47.8 billion rupees for education compared to 545 billion for defence expenditure.

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