‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD, June 20: At the moment, over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and the literacy rate is less than 60 percent. It requires us to declare an educational emergency in the country.

This was said by the state minister for education, Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman, during the launching ceremony of a report, Pakistan District Education Rankings, by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute at a local hotel on Thursday.

He said the literacy rate could not be improved without political will. During the past five years, 45,000 teachers had been appointed in Punjab and most were placed near their villages to assure maximum attendance.“We have decided to establish the National Curriculum Council to introduce a syllabus with a minimum standard for all provinces,” he said, adding that schools would be increased from 10,000 to 40,000 in the first year of the current government’s tenure.

The ranking report showed the huge variation in education standards across Pakistan. One of the goals of the report was to serve as a benchmark against which the performance of politicians and administrators could be assessed.

“The picture of education painted in the report is stark and demands urgent action,” said Musharraf Zaidi, the team leader of Alif Ailaan. “With this report, we hope to generate an informed public debate about Pakistan’s education emergency,” he said.

The report dispelled the commonly held notion that providing infrastructure would automatically improve the overall quality of education shown by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) findings, where the quality was one of the highest among Pakistan but school infrastructure was ranked low.

Surprisingly, no district of Sindh made it in the top fifty districts, not even Karachi.

Punjab took the top position in the overall provincial rankings while Balochistan ranked lowest.

“The bottom line is few districts are performing well, and this should be a wake-up call for the government. We need to see dramatic improvements in education if we are not to lose the next generation to illiteracy and poverty,” said the principal author of the report, Asif Saeed Memon, of the SDPI.

An innovative ‘Education and Budget’ map was also launched at the event, which is available on the Alif Ailaan website.

The map allows users to access key education statistics for each district and send a letter to elected representatives in each constituency so that they played their role in improving Pakistan’s education. To reinforce the message, Alif Ailaan would then post a copy of each letter sent through the map directly to the MNA or MPA in question.

Moreover, the data of 145 districts of Pakistan had been compiled to rank them on the basis of standards of education and standards of facilities.

According to the report, 98 out of 145 districts scored more than 50 (out of 100) suggesting performance across the country was average.

Overall scores are as follows: AJK (77.96), Punjab (68.78), Gilgit-Baltistan (67.45), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (63.79), Sindh (51.67), Fata (47.42) and Balochistan (46.70).

Courtesy: DAWN

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