ISLAMABAD: Though education remained the most neglected sector during the past, which could be judged from the fact that a total of 22.84 million children are still out-of-school, people have good opportunity to vote the party to power which promised to bring about revolutionary changes in the sector.
Like all over the country, the education condition in Rawalpindi is also in shambles, as very low attention has been given to the sector during the past governments, as there is only one middle school for every four primary schools, which is the main reason of the drop in the enrolment rates.
However, a strange trend has been witnessed during the election campaign, as not a single banner, posters or pamphlet of the contenders carry any slogan pertaining to education uplift in the district. Rawalpindi is ranked at the bottom of the province based on the learning outcomes demonstrated by the students in the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) assessments, while the learning outcomes in science are specifically low.
Analysis of the educational landscape revealed that availability of the schools beyond primary access, quality of education, and missing facilities and poor school infrastructure are the three most important factors contributing to failing education standards in Rawalpindi. Besides, the lack of schools beyond primary levels explained as why there is a drop in the enrolment rates as we move up the higher classes.
This trend can be observed as there is only one middle school for every four primary schools, while there is only one higher secondary school for every 10 high schools in the district. As per the Annual School Census 2017 done by the Punjab government, around 62% of all the schools in the district are primary schools and there are only 40 higher secondary schools in Rawalpindi which make 2% of the total schools.
The students graduating primary schools do not have enough schools to attend post primary. The middle and high or higher secondary schools are at greater distances from their households. Almost half of the schools in the district have unsatisfactory building condition. A total of 57 schools have buildings which fall under the category “completely repairable.”
The data showed that a total of 23 schools in the district have dangerous buildings and there are 120 schools in the district that do not have a boundary wall and 141 schools are not secured because of no main gate. One of the reasons is a shortage of science labs and subject specialist teachers in the schools.
Out of the 17,443 teachers appointed in the district, only 2,501 (14%) are subject specialists and only 338 (2%) are senior subject specialists. The Punjab government data showed that around 282 of the 428 high and higher secondary schools in Rawalpindi lack science labs, 83 schools lack physics lab, 86 schools lack biology lab, while 89 schools lack chemistry lab.
During the election days, Alif Ailaan is a nonprofit organisation, working in the field of education since 2013, has conducted multi-party convention in the four provinces and one such convention was held in Rawalpindi some days ago. The purpose of the convention was to discuss the failing state of education in Rawalpindi, analyze the five-year education plans of contesting candidates and probe reasonable solutions to ensure quality education across the government-run schools.
The convention was attended by PML-N candidate for NA-62 Barrister Danyal, Sheikh Arsalan (PP-16), Sumera Gul (NA-62), Amjad Sabir (NA-59), Haji Rizwan Ahmad Awan (NA-PP-14), Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (NA-62) and Dr Azhar Aslam (NA-60) along with parents, youth activists and civil society members.
About their five-year plan to reform public school system in their constituencies, they promised investing more in early and primary year learning and teachers training, discounting the value in creating science labs and building school infrastructure. However, their seriousness of the contenders to reform the education system in the district could be assessed from the fact that not a single banner, posters or pamphlet carry any slogan pertaining to education uplift in the district.