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The News

Published Date: May 23, 2014

Punjab ahead of all provinces but education situation still bleak

"Alif
Ailaan District Education Rankings 2014" — an in-depth assessment of
the state of education in the country — revealed that Punjab is surging
ahead of other provinces with its 14 districts in top 20.

The ceremony was organised by Alif Ailaan Pakistan and Sustainable Development Institute here on Thursday.

While
addressing the gathering, Mehnaz Aziz, CEO of the Children’s Global
Network, said data and evidence has to be the basis of increased
accountability and gauging the performance of politicians. She said the
government needs to launch a census of all children between the ages of 5
and 16 to assess where the country stands in terms of enrolment, and
plan accordingly. Punjab’s high rank must not be mistaken with the
province being anywhere near achieving its target of ensuring 100%
enrolment and the provision of quality education. There is still a long
way to go.

The report provides a snapshot of the education
situation in Pakistan’s 146 districts and shows how widely education
standards vary across the country. It provides a tool to track the
performance of politicians, administrators and education providers, and
measures the progress that provinces and districts are making.

Much
like last year, Sindh, Balochistan and Fata occupy the bottom of the
rankings with Sindh making its first appearance at number 40 with
Karachi. This demonstrates a lack of commitment to follow-up on promises
made by the provincial government. A recent example of this is the
pledge that nine political parties made three months ago to ensure
quality education for all the 6.1 million out-of-school children in in
the province.

Mehtab Rashidi, MPA, PML-F and former
Education Secretary Sindh said that there is need to stop politicising
education. “I would urge all politicians to leave education alone. There
are other avenues of making money and patronising transfers and
posting. Education should not be one of them. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is
the second worst performing province despite the government’s
commitment to improve the situation. This is owing to gender disparities
as well as poor learning outcomes in the province,” she added.

Bushra
Gohar, former ANP MNA, said that it seems from the rankings that
Pakistan is only Punjab. “It is time that we start investing in our
children. The problem is that the state’s focus is primarily security.
Education comes nowhere near. This needs to change. KP is followed by
Balochistan, which is at the bottom of the rankings. The province has
shown poor performance and is a matter of pressing concern given that
there are 1.76 million children out of school here,” she added.

Senator
Abdul Rauf Lala, from Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, said that
situation in Balochistan should not be seen only in the light of the
18th Amendment. The federal government, he said, needs to take ownership
of the 65 years of havoc they have wreaked on education in KP.

In
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the district of Poonch has fallen from
its top spot last year and comes at 9th position in 2014. AJK has shown
an overall decline from second position last year to third position this
year. Although there are success stories this year, with some districts
improving their performance to rise in the rankings, the report shows
that overall quality and the availability of facilities are still
unsatisfactory. Chakwal, which ranks highest nationwide, has a net
enrolment rate of just 83 per cent, which is far from the promise of
ensuring quality education for all. According to the report, more than 4
out of 5 children in Chakwal who are enrolled drop out before reaching
Class 8.

Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in his address, said that the government is
getting enough for what it is investing in. “The government needs to
look at better ways of running schools. The sad truth is that even our
best districts are far from ideal. Children are still out of school and
the quality of education leaves much to be desired,” he added.

An
interactive data portal, which provides a detailed overview of each
district along with provincial and inter-district comparisons was also
launched at the event. This is the first-of-its-kind resource that helps
pinpoint the key reasons behind a district’s low scores, thereby
helping identify hurdles in improvement.

The "Alif Ailaan
District Education Rankings 2014" and the online portal are unique
resources that can help politicians; education managers and the research
community better understand the situation of their districts. This
report should be used as a policy planning tool by governments, to help
design district-specific education improvement plans. The Punjab has
already taken the lead on this as is evidenced from its system of
ranking districts as part of the Education Reforms Programme.

Source: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-251691-Punjab-ahead-of-all-provinces-but-education-situation-still-bleak