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Daily Times

Published Date: May 8, 2015

Quality of education single biggest challenge for education system

Alif Ailaan Pakistan report urges policymakers to focus on falling learning scores * Punjab’s districts are dominating eight out of ten top spots in the rankings * Shafqat Mehmood says political differences should be kept away from the pursuit of education reform

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan cannot continue to focus on universal enrolment or gender parity, whilst allowing quality to

suffer, says Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015.

This is highlighted by low learning scores across the board for all districts and provinces. Quality of education is fast-becoming the single biggest challenge for the education system. The biggest takeaway for policymakers should be the falling learning scores, says the report.

The Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015 is the third edition of the annual in-depth assessment of the state of education in the country, prepared in partnership with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and covers all 148 districts, agencies and frontier regions of the country.

According to the report, Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) switched positions this year, with AJK jumping to second spot behind the top ranked Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The report sheds light on 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 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data. This is the primary cause from Punjab’s overall decline from second to third.

At the launch of the report, Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif has said that the PML-N government believes that this is the time to fix the failure in reforming education system for over 60 years.

“Alif Ailaan’s rankings are showing us the mirror,” said Shafqat Mehmood, the PTI MNA. “Education should be beyond politics. Political differences should be kept away from the pursuit of education reform,” he said.

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 (KP) government has managed to show progress through an improved rank, based on considerable improvements in enrolment, retention and importantly, gender parity. The KP is still far behind the ICT, AJK and Punjab in many crucial measures, but the improvement is marked.

“These rankings promote healthy competition among provinces and districts,” said Balighur Rahman, the Federal Minister for Education and Training. He added the situation of education in Pakistan is improving after the 2013 elections. Provinces have allocated more resources to education and the recent Pakistan Social And Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM) shows that the number of out of school children has significantly reduced.

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%) and a large increase in FATA’s score (15.12%). 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 remains steady at fourth position while its education score shows an increase by 1.69%. Sindh has climbed down a spot since last year and now sits at the sixth spot owing primarily to a decline in enrolment. Sindh’s 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%). 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 till class 5) and gender parity.