KARACHI: Despite the recent focus of the provincial government on enrolment drives, 29 percent of Sindh’s children aged 5-16 still remain out of school, said the Annual Status of Education Report ASER 2013 National survey.
The remaining 71% that are enrolled in the 5-16 age bracket are not learning much either. These findings were made public in the provincial launch of Pakistan’s largest-annual citizen-led household based ASER Survey 2013, the fifth ASER Survey report in a row launched in Karachi on 11th February 2014. The ASER 2013 survey has been conducted by 10,000 volunteers managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) along with many key civil society/semi autonomous organisations that include the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Sindh Education Foundation (SEF), Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD), HANDS, NRSP and several other civil society organisations across Pakistan.
The ASER survey findings for Sindh have been based on the testing of 41,190 children (including 41 per cent girls) by thousands of volunteer citizens, who personally visited 13,020 households in 655 villages as well as 8259 children (including 43 percent girls) 3,255 households in 164 blocks in urban areas of districts across Sindh. For the year 2013, the ASER rural survey has been conducted in 22 rural districts in the Sindh, wherein 5-16 year age cohort children were tested for English, Language (Urdu/Sindhi), and arithmetic competencies.
The report aims to inform the progress or lack thereof with respect to Article 25 A of the constitution making education a fundamental right for 5-16 year old children since 2010. To date the implementation has yet to take place as both laws and rules remain in abeyance. In spite of public demand the state response at best continues to remain neutral to education as a basic need. Parliamentarians and ministers made commitments to be held accountable as duty bearers but they must walk the talk. They must decide between a future based on an educated Pakistan and a dead end that marginalises learning and undervalues social capital. The narrative on education must change dramatically under the current democratic dispensation.
Released by Taj Haider, Coordinator Chief Minister Sindh, the report states that the private sector is performing better than the government sector as far as the learning levels of children, student and teacher attendance are concerned. The survey reveals a clear-urban-rural divide, whereby urban areas perform better in terms of access and infrastructure facilities; however learning levels remain marginally better than rural areas with a high incidence of private tuitions in urban areas. Shockingly teacher and student absenteeism is higher in public schools in urban than rural areas.
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. In English, only 25% 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 29% of class V children were able to do a two-digit division, something that is expected in second grade curriculum.
The ASER Survey also has identified that in Sindh children enrolled in private schools are performing better compared to those studying in government schools; 61% children enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story in Urdu compared to 40% Class V students studying at government schools. The difference in learning levels is starker for English, where 53% Grade V could read English Class II level sentences compared to 23% public sector students.
Further, the survey explains that girls continue to lag behind boys in language and arithmetic competencies. As many as 33 percent of boys were found able to read at least sentences in Urdu/Sindhi with only 24% girls being able to do so. In addition to the assessment of children, the report also highlights school functioning across every district in Sindh. The ASER Sindh rural survey informs that overall teachers attendance in government schools stood at 82% as compared to 92% in private schools on the day of the survey.
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