The quality of education remains the biggest challenge for Pakistan. Islamabad, Chakwal and Kotli districts dominate the education rankings, while Qila Abdullah, Dera Bugti, and Lakki Marwat remain at the lowest ebb.
This was revealed in the Pakistan District Education Rankings 2016, a report launched jointly by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Alif Ailaan on Tuesday.
The federal capital is atop both provincial/regional rankings, as well as the district rankings for the first time with increased learning and enrolment scores.
The report aims to help understand the state of education in Pakistan and call attention to the evidence of a deep and persistent national crisis.
This year, the report covers all 151 districts across the country to assess their education scores, based on levels of enrolment, retention, learning, gender parity and school facilities.
The quality of education is still the biggest challenge, as there are only moderate improvements in the score of learning outcomes – last year from 52.33 to 54.78 this year. The evidence from Islamabad, Punjab and KP demonstrates that strong political commitment can translate into improved outcomes.
The overall evidence from across the country however remains stark – and suggests that Pakistan will need more political commitment, in all parts of the country, to secure a decent future for its children.
A new index for School Completeness shows that only 52% of all government schools in the country have all four facilities (namely, toilets, boundary walls, running electricity and drinking water). It also shows that a staggering 81% of all government schools are primary schools. This essentially implies that after primary education, children in Pakistan have very limited opportunities to continue their education.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education Baligh ur Rehman said: “Such rankings create a healthy competition that helps improve the state of education,” and added data and statistics have great importance in terms of planning and preparing policies. “When I took charge of the ministry, we were confronted with the challenge of accessing correct and authentic data. Authentic data is essential for good planning,” he said.
PTI MNA Dr Arif Alvi stated, “I commend Alif Ailaan in its efforts to link politicians to the state of education in their constituencies. I believe it is absolutely necessary for politicians to take ownership of the schools and children in their respective constituencies at an individual level.”
General Secretary ANP Mian Iftikhar Hussain stated, “Quality of education is a moral obligation of the state. It is critical for politicians to prioritise their agenda on education.” He said in KP, schools are blown up on regular basis, especially girls schools in KP and FATA are hit badly.
Country Director UNDP Marc Andre Franche stated that the district rankings highlight systematic inequalities among the districts and the regions in Pakistan. The state of education in the districts of South Punjab, Balochistan and FATA is worse than some of sub-Saharan African countries, while districts of North Punjab emulate developed countries like Canada.”
He further highlighted the need for constituency level data on education to empower voters to raise more concerted demands from their political representatives.
The district rankings reflect that Islamabad, Punjab, AJK and KP all have relatively better scores on the education and infrastructure indices. However, FATA, Balochistan and Sindh are consistently poor performers, relative to the rest of the country. Though some districts have demonstrated remarkable improvements, there is little to indicate any major nationwide improvement in either education quality or the quality of school infrastructure.
Although Punjab’s education score decreased due to a decline in the retention score, it scored highest in gender parity. Punjab also continues to provide a superior school infrastructure to its students, where 93% of the schools have all four basic facilities.
While KP demonstrated improvements in both enrolment and gender parity scores, the retention rate of the province declined, consequently affecting the overall education score. On the other hand, the province is ranked higher at third in school infrastructure score, which indicates significant improvement. However 50% of its schools still lack the provision of all four basic facilities.
Balochistan and Sindh continue to suffer the lowest education and infrastructure scores. Balochistan’s education score has dropped, moving Balochistan to the last rank. Except for Quetta (which is amongst the top 50), almost half of the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100.
Sindh has the lowest learning outcomes this year. Moreover, only the six of its districts are in the top half of the rankings table. Once again, Karachi is the only district in the top 50. The state of school infrastructure also continues to suffer, where only 23% schools could be considered complete, having all four basic facilities.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) experienced the largest improvement amongst provinces/regions with a substantial increase in its education score. However the infrastructure score remains critical, with only 13% of the schools providing all basic facilities to children (electricity, drinking water, toilet facility and boundary wall).
Although Gilgit-Baltistan (GB)’s progress has been stagnant over the past four years, given the numerous challenges, the region still managed to show relative improvements with increased education score of 3%. Six out of seven districts of GB continue to stay in the top half of the rankings. However the infrastructure score remains deplorable, with 50% of the schools failing to provide basic facilities to students.
FATA demonstrate improvement in their education score by 3%, enabling FATA to outrank Balochistan.