ISLAMABAD: Pakistan needs to increase its current yearly growth rate of net enrollment from 0.92 percent to 3.8 percent to achieve the zero out-of-school children target by 2030.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) National Human Development Report-2017 (NHDR) has projected the prevailing enrollment growth rate ratio contributing to achieving the set the target, which is a decade away, in six long decades.
The report has anticipated that the government should expedite the current growth rate to bring the out-of-school children number down to zero to reap maximum fruits of its efforts, adding quality not the quantity of education should be enhanced to uplift the stagnant literacy rate.
The report has revealed that Pakistan’s progress in literacy and enrollments in the formal schooling system has been spoiled by the persistent overlapping disparity in access to, and access in education. It added that access to education refers to the availability of educational institutions, admission procedures and infrastructure while access in explains the quality of the teaching and learning and the level of participation in school life.
“Poor access to education in Pakistan leads to the country having one of the world’s lowest completion rates for primary education. The abysmal levels of public spending on education under subsequent governments reflect on the poor quality of teaching and learning outcomes and inadequate infrastructure”, says the report.
Incredibly 9.45 million children at primary level were estimated to be out of school in 2015.
Pakistan is a signatory to various international commitments regarding the goal of universal education, like Education for All, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These commitments have been incorporated in the national agenda. Pakistan’s Constitution recognises free education as a right and accepts the provision of free and compulsory education as the State’s responsibility. Constitutional Amendment 18 (2010) states: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as determined by the law.”
The report has emphasised the need that the government should revisit its definition of literacy as it counts Pakistan adopts a loose definition of literacy, bypassing the two critical components – numeracy and life skills. The 1998 national census counts anyone 10 years or older as literate if they can “read a newspaper and write a simple letter in any language”.
Pakistan has committed to the Education for All (EFA) goal that entails achieving a 50 percent improvement in adult literacy levels by 2015, along with equitable access to education for all. However, the country still lags in its education targets.