Published Date: May 8, 2015
Education sector – deep crisis prevails despite progress
Punjab continues to provide superior govt school infrastructure to its students and highest learning outcomes in the country
A deep crisis prevails in the education sector despite mild improvements while major work is needed to improve the quality of education, reduce gender parity and increase enrolments, a report released on Thursday said.
The findings were revealed in the Pakistan District Education Rankings for 2015 released by Alif Ailaan in partnership with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The report covers all 148 districts, agencies and frontier regions of the country and is the third edition of the annual in-depth assessment of the state of education in the country.
According to the report, Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) switched positions this year, with AJK jumping to second spot behind top ranked Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The report illuminates the comparative inequalities prevalent within Pakistan’s federal framework, with Punjab continuing to provide a superior government school infrastructure to its students, and the highest learning outcomes in the country.
Punjab’s districts are dominating eight out of ten top spots in the rankings. However, this year’s report shows that several districts (including Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur) saw a decline in the learning score, reflected in the ASER data. This is the primary cause from Punjab’s overall decline in position, where it has fallen from second to third.
The other big change from the 2014 rankings is the upward trend visible in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with this being the first year that the PTI government was in-charge for the entirety of the data collection period. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has managed to show progress through an improved rank, based on considerable improvements in enrolment, retention and importantly, gender parity. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is still far behind ICT, AJK, and Punjab in many crucial measures, but the improvement is marked.
Much like last year, Balochistan and FATA occupy the bottom of the rankings, highlighting critical, long-term political challenges for Pakistan. This is despite a drop in Balochistan’s score (3.67 per cent) and a large increase in FATA’s score (15.12 per cent). Quetta is the highest ranked district and the only one in the top 50 districts while almost half the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100.
The report shows that despite poor performance on the school infrastructure score, Gilgit-Baltistan holds steady at fourth position while its education score shows an increase by 1.69 per cent.
Sindh has climbed down a spot since last year and now sits at the sixth spot owing primarily to a decline in enrolment. Sindh has continued poor performance is further emphasised by the fact that only one of its 24 districts is in the top 50, while half of its districts are ranked in the bottom third.
Overall Pakistan’s education score remains steady (an increase of 1.67 per cent). This is the second consecutive year of modest improvement. The biggest decline seen in the scores is in the learning score, while improvements are seen in retention (survival until class five) and gender parity.
The biggest takeaway for policymakers should be the falling learning scores. Quality of education is fast becoming the single biggest challenge for the education system. Pakistan cannot continue to focus on universal enrolment or gender parity, whilst allowing quality to suffer. This is highlighted by low learning scores across the board for all districts and provinces.