LAHORE: Punjab has witnessed an improvement in literacy; however, 48 per cent children aged between three to five years and 9 per cent children aged between six to 16 years still remain out of school, the rural Punjab Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2019 survey revealed on Tuesday.
In contrast, the survey in seven urban centres across Punjab provided the relief of knowing that 97 per cent of children in those areas are being formally educated.
The report, which is a product of Pakistan’s largest annual citizen-led household based ASER Survey, was released by Punjab Minister for School Education Dr Murad Rass during at event at which Standing Committee on Education Chairperson Ayesha Nawaz, UNICEF’s education specialist Rubina Nadeem, Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Uzma Kardar, Quaid-e-Azam Academy Director General (DG) Amtul Qadoos, Punjab Additional Secretary Literacy Bashir Ahmed Goraiya, media experts and others participated.
There was a unanimous consensus for urgent actions to be taken for a future based on an educated Pakistan to halt the protracted devaluing of its social capital.
Around 3,000 volunteer citizens visited 35 districts in 1,031 villages to implement the ASER survey from 20,677 households and 51,952 children aged between three to 16 years. For the year 2019, the ASER rural survey assessed 43,293 children of five to 16 year age cohort in Urdu, English, and arithmetic competencies mapped to Grade 2 curriculum and textbooks.
Over the years, the survey results highlight a decline in the number of children going to private sector schools; 28 per cent children of age 6 to 16 were enrolled in private schools in 2019 as compared to 37 per cent in 2014. This shift to public schools increased enrolment shares from 63 per cent to 72 per cent.
According to the rural report, student competencies in learning have also improved. About 75 per cent of children from the fifth grade can now read text in Urdu while 71 per cent of them managed to read English sentences meant for students in the second grade.
Similarly, arithmetic learning levels have also improved since 2018; 82 per cent of fifth grade children could do a two-digit division pegged at second grade curriculum.
Overall, 85 per cent of the children enrolled in grade 5 in all urban districts surveyed in the province can read a story in their local language, 84 per cent can read sentences in English while 78 per cent can do division.
The report also highlights school functioning in all districts in Punjab. Teachers’ attendance was reported at 89 per cent in government schools and 90 per cent in private schools. Whilst private school teachers were reported to have better qualifications at graduate levels, 40 per cent, compared to 26 per cent in government schools; however, for MA/MSC qualifications of public primary school teachers, 62 per cent were reported to be higher than private sector teachers which stood at 28 per cent.
Furthermore, school facilities in the government sector have also been made better as 97 per cent government primary schools now have boundary-walls as compared to 93 per cent private primary schools, functional toilets are available in 94 per cent public and 89 per cent private primary schools.
The survey also included a health and disability section in which teachers were asked questions pertaining to Children with Disabilities (CWDs) and appropriate facilities in their respective schools.
Overall, 22.4 per cent of the surveyed government schools reported having children with disabilities, compared to 18.1 per cent private schools. Of the types of disability prevalence in schools, the highest reported was physical, 36.90 per cent, followed by behavioral, 15.18 per cent and hearing, 11.31 per cent.
Of the surveyed schools, 3.89 per cent government and 4.21 per cent of private schools had ramps; 5.26 per cent of government schools and 5.39 per cent of private schools had disability-friendly toilets.
ASER is a flagship programme of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) implemented in partnership with civil society organisations. In two districts, the survey was successfully conducted through androids, testing for survey solutions that are paperless, efficient and transparent.