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Dawn

Published Date: Jun 21, 2013

Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan

At
the moment, over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and the
literacy rate is less than 60 percent. It requires us to declare an educational
emergency in the country.

This
was said by the state minister for education, Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman, during
the launching ceremony of a report, Pakistan District Education Rankings, by
Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute at a local hotel on
Thursday.

He
said the literacy rate could not be improved without political will. During the
past five years, 45,000 teachers had been appointed in Punjab and most were
placed near their villages to assure maximum attendance.“We have decided to
establish the National Curriculum Council to introduce a syllabus with a
minimum standard for all provinces,” he said, adding that schools would be
increased from 10,000 to 40,000 in the first year of the current government’s
tenure.

The
ranking report showed the huge variation in education standards across
Pakistan. One of the goals of the report was to serve as a benchmark against
which the performance of politicians and administrators could be assessed.

"The
picture of education painted in the report is stark and demands urgent action,"
said Musharraf Zaidi, the team leader of Alif Ailaan.
"With this report, we hope to generate an informed public debate about
Pakistan’s education emergency," he said.

The
report dispelled the commonly held notion that providing infrastructure would
automatically improve the overall quality of education shown by the Azad Jammu
and Kashmir (AJK) findings, where the quality was one of the highest among
Pakistan but school infrastructure was ranked low.

Surprisingly,
no district of Sindh made it in the top fifty districts, not even Karachi.

Punjab
took the top position in the overall provincial rankings while Balochistan
ranked lowest.

"The
bottom line is few districts are performing well, and this should be a wake-up
call for the government. We need to see dramatic improvements in education if
we are not to lose the next generation to illiteracy and poverty," said the
principal author of the report, Asif
Saeed Memon, of the SDPI.

An
innovative ‘Education and Budget’ map was also launched at the event, which is
available on the Alif Ailaan website.

The
map allows users to access key education statistics for each district and send
a letter to elected representatives in each constituency so
that they played their role in improving Pakistan’s education. To reinforce the
message, Alif Ailaan would then post a copy of each letter sent through the map
directly to the MNA or MPA in question.

Moreover,
the data of 145 districts of Pakistan had been compiled to rank them on the
basis of standards of education and standards of facilities.

According
to the report, 98 out of 145 districts scored more than 50 (out of 100)
suggesting performance across the country was average.

Overall
scores are as follows: AJK (77.96), Punjab (68.78), Gilgit-Baltistan (67.45),
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (63.79), Sindh (51.67), Fata (47.42) and Balochistan
(46.70).