‘16% of children aged 6-16 still remain out of school’


LAHORE: Despite the recent focus of the provincial government on enrolment drive, 16 percent of Punjab’s children aged 6-16 still remain out of school, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2013. 
The remaining 84% that are enrolled in the 6-16 age bracket are not learning much either.
Conducted by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD), ASER 2013 was launched in the city on Monday.
Punjab Minister for Population Zakia Shahnawaz, Secretary School Education Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Pro-chancellor Syed Babar Ali, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General IA Rahman, Oxford University Press (OUP) Managing Director Ameena Saiyed, Director Programs Baila Raza Jamil and representatives of civil society and government officials were present on the occasion. The survey was conducted by 10,000 volunteers across Pakistan.
The ASER survey findings for Punjab is based on the testing of 59,092 children (including 44 percent girls) by thousands of volunteer citizens, who personally visited 21,365 households in 1,074 villages as well as 3,542 children (including 47 percent girls) 1,339 households in 67 blocks in urban areas of four districts across Punjab.
For the year 2013, the ASER rural survey has been conducted in 36 rural districts in Punjab, wherein 5-16 year age cohort children were tested for English, Language (Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto), and Arithmetic competencies.
According to the report, student competencies in learning English, Arithmetic, and Language are deplorable. Half of the children from Class V cannot read Class II level text in Urdu/Sindhi/ Pushto. In English, only 62% of the surveyed Class V students could read sentences which should ideally be read by students from the second grade. A similar trend has been observed in the Arithmetic capabilities of children where only 56% of Class V children were able to do a two-digit division, something that is expected in second grade curriculum.
The ASER survey also identified that, in Punjab, children enrolled in private schools are performing better compared to those studying in government schools; 71% children enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story in Urdu compared to 63% Class V students studying at government schools. The difference in learning levels is starker for English, where 70% Grade V could read English Class II level sentences compared to 58% public sector students.
Further, the survey explains that gender parity in learning levels is growing. As many as 55 percent of boys were found able to read at least sentences in Urdu with almost the same percentage of girls (54%) equally competent in Urdu. 
In addition to the assessment of children, the report also highlights school functioning across every district in Punjab. The ASER Punjab rural survey informs that overall teachers’ attendance in government schools stood at 88.5% as compared to 92% in private schools on the day of the survey. Private teachers were reported to have better qualifications at graduate levels; for example, 64% teachers in private schools are graduates in comparison to only 42% in government schools.
The trends in multi-grade teaching across schools are also mixed. ASER 2013 findings have found 34% of government and 35% of private schools imparting multi-grade teaching at Class II level. On the contrary, at the Class VIII level, multi-grade teaching is more prevalent in the private sector 43 vs 13 % in government schools.  
Despite the fact that only 15% private primary schools receive funds from the government (as compared to 100% public primary schools), the private sector has been reported to be better at school facilities. For example, 95% private primary schools had boundary walls as compared to 81% government primary schools. Similarly, with regard to availability of functional toilets, it has been found that the facility was still not available in 14% public and 8% private primary schools in rural Pakistan.

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